What Counts as World Class? Global University Rankings and Shifts in Institutional Strategies [chapter]

Tero Erkkilä, Ossi Piironen
2020 Evaluating Education: Normative Systems and Institutional Practices  
AbstractGlobal university rankings have emerged as a benchmark of institutional success, setting standards for higher education policymaking and institutional practices. Nevertheless, only a marginal share of higher education institutions (HEI) are in a realistic position to be ranked as a 'world-class' institutions. In the European context, the global rankings have been used to highlight a performance gap between European and North American institutions. Here the focus has been on the HEIs in
more » ... een on the HEIs in the top-100 positions, causing concerns over European higher education. This has also become a marker of world-class university. We analyze the strategies of 27 Northern European universities in different tiers to learn how they have adjusted to the reality of ranking. We conclude that the references to global rankings have increased between 2014 and 2018. At the same time, the references to rankings have become more implicit in nature. Nevertheless, we find that the discourse of global comparison and excellence has become more common in the strategies. There are also emerging references to the regional role of universities, which are apparent in the strategies of universities that are clearly outside the top-100 ranked institutions. However, this is also a reflection of the discourse of world-class university.
doi:10.1007/978-981-15-7598-3_11 fatcat:4d7nshkwv5fhbc7hzca4u2zw2e