The Impact of Higher Education Ranking Systems on Universities

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Routledge, Apr 4, 2021 - Education - 146 pages
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This book, written by three generations of rankings academics with considerable experience from three very different regions of the globe, lifts the lid on the real impact of higher education ranking systems (HERS) on universities and their stakeholders. It critically analyses the criteria that make up the ‘Big Three’ global ranking systems and, using interviews with senior administrators, academics and managers, discusses their impact on universities from four very different continents. Higher education continues to be dominated by a reputational hierarchy of institutions that sustains and is reinforced by HERS. Despite all the opinions and arguments about the legitimacy of the rankings as a construct, it seems experts agree that they are here to stay. The question, therefore, seems to be less about whether or not universities should be compared and ranked, but the manner in which this is undertaken. Delivering a fresh perspective on global rankings, this book summarizes the development of HERS and provides a critical evaluation of the effects of HERS on four different major regions – South Africa, the Arab region, South East Asia, and Australia. It will appeal to any academic, student, university administrator or governing body interested in or affected by global higher education ranking systems.


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1 Lies damned lies and statistics
2 The context for the development of higher education ranking systems HERS
3 The history and development of global rankings
Broad issues and ARWU detail
Broad issues and QS WUR detail
Broad issues and THE WUR detail
7 The global higher education arena
8 Rankings politics geography and the global knowledge economy
The good the bad and the ugly

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About the author (2021)

Kevin Downing is Secretary to Council and Court and Director of the Institutional Research Office at City University of Hong Kong.

Petrus Johannes Loock is a Senior Institutional Researcher in the Division of Institutional Planning, Evaluation and Monitoring at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Sarah Gravett is Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

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