International university ranking systems and the idea of university excellence

Paul Taylor*, Richard Braddock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


We look at some of the theoretical and methodological issues underlying international university ranking systems and, in particular, their conceptual connection with the idea of excellence. We then turn to a critical examination of the two best-known international university ranking systems - the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World University Rankings and the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities. We assess the various criteria used by the two systems and argue that the Jiao Tong system, although far from perfect, is a better indicator of university excellence. Based on our assessments of these two systems, we suggest how an ideal international university ranking system might look, concluding with some comments on the uses of ranking systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-260
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Higher Education Policy and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


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