Rankings, Student Choice and Recruitment
While rankings have existed for almost 100 years, they have gained international popularity and notoriety only since the 1980s. A large element of their success has been their ability to (appear to) satisfy a ‘public demand for transparency and information that institutions and government have not been able to meet on their own’ (Usher and Savino, 2006, p. 38). Clarke (2007, p. 35) says that the growing demand for rankings has been ‘fuelled by several trends in higher education, including increasing participation rates, higher costs, and the view of students as consumers who expect value for money’. Morse (2010a) makes a similar point; given the substantial costs associated with some private colleges in the US – around USD 50,000 per year or USD 200,000 for an undergraduate degree – ‘there is a real need for information to determine the relative merits of schools given their cost’. Over the last decade in particular, the number and type of rankings, users and uses have grown exponentially, and now extend far beyond students and their parents who were envisaged as the initial and primary target group. A 2010 survey of users of rankings found the most favourable view came from students (Adams and Baker, 2010, chart 2). This kind of reaction has stimulated and underpinned a growth in the range of publications marketed under the generic title of university guide, initially published as hardback books but increasingly available on-line, e.g. RealUni.com, the Push Guide, Springboard, the Times Good University Guides, Apply2Uni.
KeywordsInternational Student College Ranking League Table Student Mobility Student Choice
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