An Evaluation and Critique of Current Rankings

  • Gero Federkeil
  • Frans A. van Vught
  • Don F. Westerheijden
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 37)


This chapter raises the question of whether university league tables deliver relevant information to one of their key target groups – students. It examines the inherent biases and weaknesses in the methodologies of the major rankings and argues that the concentration on a single indicator of excellence (research) and single function of an institution ignores the diverse needs and motivations of prospective students in choosing a university. It also raises the issue of rankings that proclaim the ‘excellence’ of an entire institution, which may not be an accurate reflection of the performance of individual departments. The authors then present some principles and examples of good practice in ranking and discuss alternative classification systems.


High Education Institution Composite Indicator League Table Global Ranking Integrate Postsecondary Education Data System 
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. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gero Federkeil
    • 1
  • Frans A. van Vught
    • 2
  • Don F. Westerheijden
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Higher Education (CHE)GüterslohGermany
  2. 2.Center for Higher Education Policy StudiesUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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