Do university rankings help students and policymakers make better decisions?

University rankings shape resource allocation decisions, hiring, student selection, internationalization practices, programmatic developments and public relations. Rankings have even raised the ire of Noble Prize winners. Most university leaders recognize the limitations of them, but they are in Catch 22 situation. To ignore rankings is to become invisible and in a competitive funding context this seems dangerous, but to play the game is to ignore extensive academic research that points to the methodological and ethical flaws with rankings.

Despite the hundreds of studies that have problematized the rankings' rationale, rankings continue to increase in influence throughout most of the world. For many, rankings are perceived as 'natural' tools that allow individuals and groups to sort through an increasingly complex, higher education sector. For others, rankings raise questions about equity, and who decides what knowledge is worthy of being considered world class.

The Roundtable will take place from May 13 - May 17 2017 and includes scholars, journalists, rankers and university leaders from different parts of the world.

Participants will analyze the:

1.) economic connections between university and journal rankings;
2.) impacts of university and journal rankings in diverse fields and national contexts;
3.) impact of rankings on desire of universities to engage in problem solving around global and local social and environment issues;
4.) and the impact of what is not measured (e.g. research in languages other than English) on how universities operate and the ways in which they see high value research, students, faculty and stakeholders.

Based on these discussions participants will work towards:

  • developing an international research agenda aimed at creating robust approaches to providing journalists, policymakers and students useful information for making decisions appropriate to their contexts and goals;
  • and proposing possible methodologies for an analysis of the cost and benefits of university rankings in relation to equity and diversity.


We look forward to your participation!

Contact Name

Michelle Stack,