Comparing ranking systems: League Tables 101

Comparing League tables

A handy article on the QS website on comparing ranking systems. Whilst it doesn’t go into much detail, it does offer a nice overview:

Since 1983, university ranking has become a world industry. But before we ask how universities can be ranked, it is important to consider why. The main reason for ranking universities is the vast growth in higher education across the world in recent decades. Universities are bigger than in the past. One with 10,000 students is no longer considered large. And there are more of them. The UK had 116 at the last count. As the number of students has grown, so has their need for advice and information, because more of them come from families which are new to higher education. And in the US especially, the sheer cost of going to university also drives rankings. College can cost a six-figure sum, so you need to know you are going to the right one.

In addition, the courses and programs offered by universities are increasingly diverse. Observers such as Michael Porter of Harvard Business School point out that advanced economies produce increasingly varied and specialized employment. This means new forms of university education, which in turn means an increasing need for information. Take a look at any national university ranking and you will see that it is mainly geared to the needs of potential undergraduate students, and of course their parents. Measures such as class size, staff/student ratio, completion rates, the achievement of high honours degrees, and your likelihood of employment after you leave, are the sort of thing that gets counted.

The article goes on to look at the UK Times Good University Guide, Shanghai Jaio Tong, US News and World Report, Webometrics rankings as well as offering a bit more detail on the QS league table. Nothing special but a useful introduction to the world of rankings.

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