The article examines, primarily based on large-scale survey data, the functionalist proposition that HE customers, students and employers, demand rankings to be able to adopt informed decisions on where to study and who to recruit respectively. This is contrasted to a Weberian ‘conflict’ perspective on rankings in which positional competition is key. The article concludes that rankings are better understood as instruments in positional competition for a minority of global players. They are a crucial source of information only for particular groups of international students and employers. The empirical analysis further suggests that the state of economic development, cultural aspects and the availability of top-ranked institutions in the home HE system are important factors in explaining differences in the importance of rankings across countries. We conclude by arguing that national governments and HE institutions should re-visit the assumption of a wide-spread importance of rankings for students and employers.
- comparative study
- data analysis
- educational policy
- positional competition
Souto-Otero, M., & Enders, J. (2017). International students’ and employers’ use of rankings: a cross-national analysis. Studies in Higher Education, 42(4), 783-810. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1074672