On the Efficacy of Raising Your University’s Rankings

  • Christopher C. Morphew
  • Christopher Swanson
Part of the The Changing Academy – The Changing Academic Profession in International Comparative Perspective book series (CHAC, volume 3)


Rankings are the Swiss knife of higher education – they are a single tool with many uses. Like many other universities, Texas Tech University utilizes rankings as a barometer to judge whether the university exhibits dimensions of quality. (The term “universities” will be used to describe all postsecondary institutions throughout this chapter.) The “Goal Two: Academic Excellence” section of its 2005 strategic plan cites rankings 12 times. Three of the nine objectives in this section of the plan are explicitly aimed at improving the institution’s national ranking, whether it be in selectivity, grants, scholarly productivity, or the quality of the university’s library system (Texas Tech University 2005). The use of rankings as a measure of a college or university’s excellence, improvement in quality, prestige, character, hipness, or value is ubiquitous. The pervasiveness of ranking systems has spread to institutions outside the United States as well. At world-renowned institutions like the University of Melbourne in Australia, for example, international rank is so important it occupies the second highlight on the “About the University” page, sandwiched between the institution’s foundation date and the number of enrolled students (University of Melbourne 2010). Even lesser-known institutions, like the University of Kwazulu-natal in South Africa use higher education rankings in creating strategic plans as well as guideposts in determining institutional quality (University of Kwaxulu-natal and Strategic 2007). As these examples demonstrate, universities have adopted the use of rankings as a means of assuring internal actors that the institution is on course toward its goals.


High Education Institutional Quality Postsecondary Institution College Choice International Ranking 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Policy and Leadership StudiesUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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