Similarities in institutional responses to ranking
Hazelkorn (2009) compared HEI’s responses to ranking systems from different countries. She reports remarkable similarities in the way they responded, the decisions they made and the reasons why they made those decisions despite their contextual differences. Rankings encourage and influence the modernisation and rationalisation of institutions, the professionalisation of services and marketisation of higher education, the research mission and fields of investigation, curriculum and disciplines, faculty recruitment and new career/contractual arrangements, as well as student choice and employment opportunities (Hazelkorn & Ryan, 2013). Additionally, rankings influence decision-making, academic behaviour, resource allocation, internationally ranked journal publication, promotional criteria, organisational structure and institutional mergers along with a plethora of others as delineated in earlier chapters.
Some research suggests that academics and university' management are intrinsically linked to the reputation of their institution and their careers will likely benefit from an improved rank (Schleef, 2006). Similarly, university' management have been hired or fired because of ranking performance (Espeland & Sauder, 2015). Many' rankings use the proportion of international academic staff and students as indicators for quality', coercing university' leadership at all levels to increase international recruiting practices (Wint & Downing, 2017).
Espeland and Sauder (2015) explored the influence of law school rankings on faculty' deans, and found that for the majority of them, rankings is a source of anxiety, with many feeling dismissive of rankings based on the methodology they employ. Despite this, these deans cannot afford to ignore them due to the public, faculty' and student attention they' enjoy. Emphasis is often attributed to the high importance that some university governing bodies and presidents place on rankings results which adds extra pressure on deans to improve their rank, resulting in many feeling bound by a need to improve their ranking performance. One dean remarked that with every decision made about personnel, curricula, school policies, and budgets, deans ask themselves, “What will this do to our ranking?” in addition to, “Is this best for our school?” The answers to these two questions often diverge, pitting professional judgment and expertise against the effects of rankings (Espeland & Sauder, 2015, p. 107).
Additionally, rankings have influenced changes in the way professional opportunities are distributed by determining the status of institutions so that faculty' recruiters often consider rankings when recruiting academics, tending towards those prospective faculty' with the best publication and citation performance in Scopus (Espeland & Sauder, 2015). Additionally, many' university' leadership and policy makers consult ranking results and criteria to assist in the allocation of
The global higher education arena 91 resources (Wint & Downing, 2017). Universities allocate funds to areas that are more likely to produce higher rankings, which often leads to increased budgets for natural science subjects to the detriment of humanities and the social sciences because most ranking systems overemphasise the citation impact of the natural sciences, medicine and engineering (Rauhvargers, 2014; Marope & Wells, 2013). Similarly, to tty to enhance their ranking, universities will sometimes increase spending on building up attributes and offerings, which they hope, will push them up the league table (Spicer, 2017).
Universities use rankings to collaborate with other institutions considered to be in the same league as themselves (Espeland & Sauder, 2007). It includes the formation of strategic alliances and exclusive university networks such as LERU (the League of European Research Universities) or Universitas 21 (a global network of research-intensive universities for the 21st century) (Kehm, 2014). In addition, Hazelkorn (2013) points out that several universities in the US (Florida/Arizona), benchmarked top ranked universities and used these as performance measurement systems to match academic salaries. In the QS WUR 2019 Supplement, Sowter (2018) points out that many countries, including Brazil, Denmark, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Russia, Kazakhstan, Chile, Netherlands, Thailand have consulted the QS Rankings to inform policy for various reasons. As pointed out earlier, the Netherlands and Denmark use rankings to inform immigration policies (Rauhvargers, 2014). Similarly, Russia and Macedonia have specifically recognised the qualifications of universities in the top 300 and top 500 respectively, in either the QS, THE or ARWU rankings, respectively (Wint & Downing, 2017).