Rankings and classifications in higher education: a European perspective

Marijk van der Wende

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As the number of students has grown, the number of higher education institutions, and the diversity of their mission has grown too. It has become difficult to consider them as a homogeneous group. Prioritization of activities and choice of mission have become a central concern. At the same time, globalization leads to increasing competitive pressures on institutions, in particular related to their position on global university rankings, for which their research performance is almost exclusively the measure. Key questions related to these two trends are: How do rankings affect diversity? What is their impact on institutional behavior and strategy? What is their relationship with classifications? It will be argued that in order to avoid an adverse effect on diversity, rankings should only be used within defined groups of comparable institutions (classifications) and that the development of indicators to measure performance areas other than research, such as teaching, needs to be advanced.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHigher Education
Subtitle of host publicationHandbook of Theory and Research
EditorsJohn C. Smart
Place of PublicationBerlin, Germany
Number of pages409
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4020-6959-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-4020-6958-1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Diversity
  • Globalization
  • Classification
  • Ranking
  • Internationalization
  • Strategy
  • Europeanization
  • Bologna Process
  • Lisbon Strategy
  • Convergence
  • Divergence
  • Competition
  • Cooperation
  • Institutional policy
  • Government policy


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