Global University Rankings : Impacts and Unintended Side Effects
Kehm, Barbara M.
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In this article, global and other university rankings are critically assessed with regard to their unintended side effects and their impacts on the European and national landscape of universities, as well as on individual institutions. An emphasis is put on the effects of ranking logics rather than on criticising their methodology. Nevertheless, it is briefly outlined what rankings measure and whom they serve. The second part takes a look at impacts of rankings on the European, national and institutional level. A third part casts rankings as a particular form of transnational policy coordination which enabled the European Commission to design its own policy script with regard to rankings. In the conclusions it is argued that ranking results have, in turn, become indicators or proxies for the economic competitiveness of nations, thus making the actual reality of universities and what they are about disappear. Thus, rankings constitute a de-contextualised symbolic value which is truly postmodern and create a new material reality which is no longer related to its original.