18 January 2017

UWN: Why most universities should quit the rankings game

University World News:

"We have one simple argument: universities around the world, many more than will ever publicly admit it, are currently obsessed with gaining status in one or more national or global ranking of universities. They should quit now.

However, our advice extends even to those universities that adopt the mantle of ‘flagship’ – those at the top of the hierarchy in their country or state. This is because rankings pervert one of the main purposes of higher education, which is to ensure that students and graduates acquire the knowledge and skills needed for a successful, satisfying and active life throughout one’s increasingly longer life span.

Prestige and reputation have become dominant drivers rather than pursuance of quality and student achievement, intensifying social stratification and reputational differentiation. There is a big assumption that the choice of indicators and associated weightings are meaningful measures, but there is no international research evidence that this is true. 

To these universities, and their governments, we say: concentrate on what matters – helping the majority of students earn credentials for sustainable living and employment, rather than ensuring that your institution matches criteria established by different rankings. Even if much attention and resources are so expended, the results will not be favourable."