Engineering the global university rankings: Gold standards, limitations and implications

Maxime Mussard, Alex Pappachen James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Global University ranking tables influence students and public opinion perceptions and the overall reputations of universities among an international audience. In this paper, the credibility of such ranking tables is questioned based on the tendency of ranking systems to promote questionable universities, documented instances of ethical misconduct, and inconsistencies between different ranking tables. The findings are validated using the Academic Ranking of World Universities (or Shanghai ranking), the QS University ranking, and the THE World University ranking, which are considered the golden standards today among Global University ranking tables. Inconsistencies between ranking tables with respect to parameters used in analysis and validation are pointed out. Furthermore, it is shown that all three ranking tables can be gamed by universities to get a high ranking using parameters that do not capture the wide spectrum of characteristics that reflect academic excellence in research, teaching, and services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6765-6776
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - Jan 4 2018


  • Academic ethics
  • ARWU
  • QS University ranking
  • Ranking metrics
  • Shanghai ranking
  • THE World University ranking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)

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