Why are university rankings so important? They help institutions build global brand visibility, forge strategic partnerships and recruit international talent
Here are seven ways that participating in the THE World University Rankings could bring benefits to your university:
1. Organisational management and strategy
THE’s rankings encourage a healthy internal dialogue regarding an institution’s performance. According to a survey of university leaders from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 68 per cent use rankings as a management tool to effect strategic, organisational, managerial and/or academic change. Rankings can be used to create target agreements at an institutional level or within specific faculties, and many institutions form dedicated steering committees to discuss such topics.
2. Brand and visibility
The THE World University Rankings – a vital resource for students and their families, as well as for academics and university administrators and governments across the world – help to attract more than 30 million people to our website each year, and as they make headlines around the world, they touch hundreds of millions more individuals. A 2014 survey of 171 higher education institutions from 39 countries, by the European University Association (EUA), found that more than three-quarters used their position in rankings for marketing and publicity purposes.
3. Collaboration and partnerships
Rankings can be important starting points to identify institutions with which to collaborate and partner. Having a highly ranked partner can, in turn, improve an institution’s reputation. More than half of respondents to the EUA survey said rankings helped their institutions to establish academic partnerships and foster international collaborations. Importantly, a university’s participation in THE’s rankings can influence whether an institution or company outside the higher education sector selects you as a partner, or whether a funding body invests in research at your university.
A survey conducted by THE Student Pulse found that a university’s ranking was the second most-researched factor by prospective international students when choosing where to study, with 34 per cent of respondents saying it was important to them, after tuition cost and ahead of courses offered. Academics and researchers also tend to seek employment at institutions that are perceived to be prestigious in their field.
5. Benchmarking and analysis
THE has collected more than 10 million individual data points from 3,500-plus universities in over 100 countries and regions, creating an unrivalled proprietary dataset and establishing THE as a world leader in higher education analytics. University leaders have increasingly been using KPIs from rankings to monitor performance, inform strategy and benchmark against peer institutions. The vast majority of respondents to the EUA survey reported that they monitor their institutional performance in rankings and that the senior institutional leadership is involved in this process. Some even have dedicated staff or units for this purpose.
THE DataPoints’ benchmarking and analytics software was launched in 2016 to provide detailed performance information across all the core areas of university activity and to allow comparison and benchmarking against other institutions – whether competitors or collaborators – across regions, subjects and other key criteria.
6. Data collection
THE’s rankings support institutions in improving their capacity to collect comprehensive, high-quality data and information on institutional performance. Rankings also impact discussions about, and collection of, comparative data on both a national and institutional level, and encourage not only the collection but also the publication of data to the public.
Our rankings offer a platform for universities around the world to celebrate their achievements across research, teaching and sustainability. The global popularity and influence of THE’s rankings help to bring universities’ social impact to the fore, creating a positive public dialogue and reinforcing universities’ achievements, merits and reputations. According to the OECD survey, “university leaders believe rankings help maintain and build institutional position and reputation”. Furthermore, 63 per cent of respondents to the EUA survey said rankings affected their institution’s reputation in a generally positive way.
Michael Lubacz is business development director at Times Higher Education from whose platform this piece has been extracted