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League Tables as Policy Instruments: Uses and Misuses


  • Jamil Salmi
  • Alenoush Saroyan


This article examines the role and usefulness of league tables that are increasingly used to measure and compare the performance of tertiary education institutions. The article begins with a general overview and a typology of league tables. It continues with a discussion of the controversies they have generated, including the basis and the range of criticism they have invited, the merit of indicators they use as measures of quality, and the potential conditions that place universities at an advantage or a disadvantage in ranking exercises. The paper ends with a discussion of implications of league tables for national policies and institutional practices both in the developing world and in industrial countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Jamil Salmi & Alenoush Saroyan, 2007. "League Tables as Policy Instruments: Uses and Misuses," Higher Education Management and Policy, OECD Publishing, vol. 19(2), pages 1-38.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:edukaa:5l4qdwzl7cq1

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    Cited by:

    1. Daraio, Cinzia & Bonaccorsi, Andrea & Simar, Léopold, 2015. "Rankings and university performance: A conditional multidimensional approach," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 244(3), pages 918-930.
    2. Bonaccorsi, Andrea & Cicero, Tindaro, 2016. "Nondeterministic ranking of university departments," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 224-237.
    3. Jamil Salmi, 2009. "The Growing Accountability Agenda in Tertiary Education : Progress or Mixed Blessing?," World Bank Other Operational Studies 18547, The World Bank.
    4. Douglass, John A, 2014. "PROFILING THE FLAGSHIP UNIVERSITY MODEL: An Exploratory Proposal for Changing the Paradigm From Ranking to Relevancy," University of California at Berkeley, Center for Studies in Higher Education qt8kn1m9dz, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley.
    5. Philip G. Altbach & Jamil Salmi, 2011. "The Road to Academic Excellence : The Making of World-Class Research Universities
      [El camino hacia la excelencia académica : la constitución de universidades de investigación de rango mundial]
      ," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2357.
    6. Heitor, Manuel & Horta, Hugo, 2016. "Reforming higher education in Portugal in times of uncertainty: The importance of illities, as non-functional requirements," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 113(PB), pages 146-156.
    7. repec:spr:qualqt:v:52:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11135-016-0452-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. World Bank, 2012. "Benchmarking the Governance of Tertiary Education Systems," World Bank Other Operational Studies 21588, The World Bank.

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