International university rankings affect public policy and the choices of students and their families. Rightly or wrongly, they are perceived as a measure of quality and so create intense competition between universities all over the world. But are they doing more harm than good?
A new UNESCO publication, Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses, debates the pros and cons of classifying universities. It brings together the people behind university rankings and their critics to debate the uses and misuses of existing rankings. Featuring voices from five continents, the publication aims to help the ultimate readers of rankings and league tables – be they students, parents, governments or institutional leaders – become better, and more discerning users of these tools. It provides a comprehensive overview of current thinking on the subject, and sets out alternative approaches and complementary tools for a new era of transparent and informed use of higher education ranking tables.