• HEPI number 89

International university rankings: For good or ill?

Rankings of universities have become increasingly influential in recent years. This report demonstrates the dangers that this represents. It shows that international rankings are almost entirely based on research-related criteria, and if universities are to move up the rankings the only way of doing so is to focus on their research performance – at the expense of teaching, widening participation and other activities.

The report analyses the data on which the rankings are based and demonstrates that these are of doubtful quality. It concludes by urging governments, university management and governing bodies to ignore rankings when making decisions and to do what they do because it is right, not because it will impact performance in rankings.