Title: Higher Education Rankings: Robustness Issues and Critical Assessment
Authors: SAISANA MichaelaD'HOMBRES Beatrice
Publisher: OPOCE
Publication Year: 2008
JRC N°: JRC47028
ISBN: 978-92-79-09704-1
ISSN: 1018-5593
Other Identifiers: EUR 23487 EN
URI: http://composite-indicators.jrc.ec.europa.eu/
DOI: 10.2788/92295
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: It has been often stated that European growth has been disappointing during the past three decades, remaining persistently lower than in the United States and this is to be attributed to the state of innovation and higher education in Europe. Such a conclusion has been in part based on higher education rankings such as the SJTU or the THES. These rankings can potentially be used by prospective students when choosing which university to attend, and bring attention to important issues such as ¿the student experience¿, employability and retention. The rankings and league tables also have a much wider impact ¿ for example, on institutions¿ reputations and potentially on the behaviour of academics, businesses and potential benefactors. Governing bodies take an interest in them as a means of assessing institutional performance, sometimes seizing on them in default of other, more sensitive indicators of institutional performance. There clearly is a demand for rankings in the higher education field, but there are also questions about their quality, impact and eventual validity of the conclusions, which in turn depend heavily upon the choice of indicators, the suitability of the methodologies used, the transparency of the processes and the robustness of the rankings. This JRC report has three main goals: - To throw a considerable amount of light on the approaches and limitations of the SJTU and THES rankings; - To assess the robustness of the two ranking systems with a view to identify for which universities the THES and SJTU ranking systems can be reliably used for drawing conclusions; - To identify factors behind the differences in university performance across Europe compared to the United States. We hope the debate will lead to improvements to league tables methodologies; enable users to better understand the complexities of the league tables, and avoid misunderstanding them; and to help higher education institutions develop approaches that help them satisfy the legitimate information needs of their stakeholders.
JRC Directorate:Space, Security and Migration

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