, Volume 104, Issue 3, pp 793–807 | Cite as

Measuring university quality

  • Christopher Claassen


This paper uses a Bayesian hierarchical latent trait model, and data from eight different university ranking systems, to measure university quality. There are five contributions. First, I find that ratings tap a unidimensional, underlying trait of university quality. Second, by combining information from different systems, I obtain more accurate ratings than are currently available from any single source. And rather than dropping institutions that receive only a few ratings, the model simply uses whatever information is available. Third, while most ratings focus on point estimates and their attendant ranks, I focus on the uncertainty in quality estimates, showing that the difference between universities ranked 50th and 100th, and 100th and 250th, is insignificant. Finally, by measuring the accuracy of each ranking system, as well as the degree of bias toward universities in particular countries, I am able to rank the rankings.


Latent trait models Bayesian models University rankings 



Many thanks to Isidro F. Aguillo and Robert Morse for kindly supplying the Webometrics and US News & World Report National Universities ratings data respectively. Lutz Bornmann provided helpful comments on a earlier version of this paper.

Supplementary material

11192_2015_1584_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (345 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 344 KB)


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentUniversity of EssexColchesterEngland

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