The Impact of Changes in the World Ranking Methodologies on University Positions

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Head of Research and Analytical Department
Affiliation: Sociological Research Center
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Occupation: Acting Director
Affiliation: Sociological Research Center
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya
EditionIssue 9

The article considers the main changes in the methodologies of world’s renowned rankings, their impact on university positions and comparability of ranking results over time. The QS and THE rankings’ methodological changes come under special scrutiny. The ARWU ranking is regarded as having an unchanged methodology. The subject of the research consists of universities entering the top 300 groups in the QS, THE and ARWU rankings, as they form an extended pool of leading universities in the international market. The article analyzes how the changes in methodology impact the positions of universities in the top 100, top 200 and top 300 groups from 2015 till 2017, as well as their relative positioning in the above-mentioned groups measured by correlation coefficients. Besides, the authors study how many universities maintain their positions in the top 100, top 200 and top 300 groups over two consecutive years (2015/2016 and 2016/2017), as well as their correlation coefficient. The research shows that the changes in the world ranking methodologies either do not impact, or exert a minor influence on university positions in the top 300 group of the above mentioned rankings. All the rankings under consideration demonstrate a high degree of continuity. These findings confirm that the ranking agencies take a careful approach towards methodological changes in order to ensure data comparability across time and enable the advancement of universities in the rankings (provided that universities make deliberate efforts to increase their competitiveness).

Keywordshigher education, university, competitiveness, World Universities Rankings, Project 5–100, change of methodology
Publication date09.11.2018
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