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ESU warns of worrying trend in use of rankings

According to a new study carried out by the European University Association (EUA), rankings in higher education are rising in importance on the higher education institutions (HEI) governance. ESU considers this a worrying trend for higher education.

Following the publication Rankings in Institutional Strategies and Processes: Impact or Illusion (RISP), it becomes clear that HEIs are using rankings to inform strategic or managerial actions. They are also using the results for marketing purposes. ESU fears that this has focus has a negative impact on higher education.

The survey gathered answers from a total of 171 institutions from 39 countries. The results of the survey are clear.  30% of the institutions inquired answered that they always used rankings for publicity or marketing, while 40% also admitted to do it occasionally. 39% of the institutions admit to use the results of rankings or other transparency tools to take strategic, managerial or academic action, while 32% are also planning to do so.

ESU vice-chair Fernando Galán Palomares is worried about the results of the study.

“It has become clear that rankings are shaking the world of Higher Education. This has happened in a process that is perceived to be aligned as part of a bigger trend in the development of tools of transparency, accountability and comparability. However, ESU warns that the focus on climbing the ranking tables will overshadow the work on improving the education quality in cooperation with students,” said Galán Palomares.


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