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5.3 EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES
University rankings are creating a furore wherever or whenever they are published or mentioned. Politicians regularly refer to them as a measure of their nation’s virility or aspirations, universities use them to help set or define targets mapping their performance against the various metrics, while academics use rankings to bolster their own professional reputation and status. Despite their relatively short lifespan and mounting criticism of the methodologies employed, rankings have become a permanent feature of higher education in a growing number of countries around the world. Today, over 33 countries have some form of ranking system, operated by, interalia, government and accreditation agencies, higher education, research and commercial organisations, or the popular media. National rankings are being eclipsed by global rankings – the most prominent of which are the Times QS World University Ranking and the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). There may be over 17,000 higher education institutions worldwide, but rankings are driving an obsession with the world’s top 100. And Australia is not immune.
Hazelkorn, E.: Rising popularity of rankings. Campus Review, 27 May, 2008.