How rankings impact institutional strategies and processes? research report from European University Association

What is role of rankings in university strategies and processes? This is the central question of the recent research report released by European University Association and authored by Ellen Hazelkorn, Tia Loukkola and Therese Zhang.  The report entitled “Rankings in Institutional Strategies and Processes: Impact or Illusion?” is based on the survey of 171 higher education institutions from 39 European countries. It is a comprehensive and insightful report that shows that perceived impact of rankings is very high among different stakeholders despite their public denials.  More than half of all the respondents identified that they “have one or several persons at institution level who monitor(s) our position in the rankings regularly.” Here are couple of data points indicating that institutional representatives perceive rankings to be of very high importance to prospective students:
The report asserts “…when an institution is analysing the importance of one ranking or another for its activities, it should consider the objective of the ranking, what it measures and whether the indicators are meaningful or useful for the institution’s purposes. Does it make sense to align the institution’s strategies and policies with a particular ranking? What are the implications of doing so? What are the implications of not doing so? And if the indicators or the weightings change – as they so often do – should the institution respond?” (p. 45)
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