Simulation software for determining ranking strategy

Tool to improve rankings

Times Higher Education carries an entertaining story about a handy tool designed to help universities determine the best way to improve their league table rankings:

Any doubts that world university rankings are influencing institutions’ strategic thinking are likely to be dispelled by news that academics in Taiwan have developed a tool that predicts the outcome of different management decisions on future ranking position. In a research project for the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council for Taiwan (HEEACT), Han-Lin Li, a professor at the National Chiao Tung University, has developed what he describes as “a rank simulation system for world universities”.

In a presentation on 3 November at a conference in Taipei, titled “International trends in university rankings and their impact on higher education policy”, Professor Li said his system could help a university to “allocate its resources optimally, to improve its rank”. It could even model the impact of institutional mergers on ranking positions, he said. “We need a system to help us know what kind of strategy we can use to get on the [rankings] list,” he told the audience of senior Taiwanese university administrators.

Whilst there is something mildly amusing about this kind of attempt to improve league table positioning, it is also slightly disturbing to think that resource allocation decisions could be determined in this way. Arguably though it was just a matter of time before someone developed such a tool. It will be interesting to see if there is a market for it.