A new view of university reputation

One of the aspects of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings that always receives a lot of attention is our measurement of reputation. Every year, we survey thousands of published academics across the world and ask them to name the universities that they believe are the best in research and teaching.

Reputation is an interesting concept. It is a subjective indicator and sometimes people contrast this (negatively) with “hard” or “objective” measures, such as bibliometrics. There is a whole blog to be written about just how subjective bibliometrics can be, but that is for another time.

For a long time at THE we have thought about what reputation really means. I have often compared it to the concept of brand – and certainly to my mind that makes some sense. But with our recent acquisition of The Knowledge Partnership (TKP) and their World 100 Reputation Network, we’ve been able to start exploring reputation in a richer way with experts in the field.

Am I right about reputation being largely comparable to brand? That description is probably too limited, according to Mark Sudbury, head of World 100 and reputation at TKP, who said that in recent years universities have come to understand that having a strong reputation is vital across a wide range of different aspects of their work.

“In the past people have tended to confuse reputation with brand, thinking far too narrowly about how you are recognised,” he said.

“Having a strong reputation is vital to a range of important things: recruiting the best students and staff, and increasingly things like making partnerships, securing funding and engaging with key stakeholders.”

In its tracker tool, the World 100 Reputation Network uses an ongoing set of detailed surveys with a variety of university stakeholders to explore reputation in greater detail over time. It looks at four broad sets of opinions:

  • a set of audiences around the student recruitment process, including undergraduate and master’s level prospective students, student advisers, and parents;
  • external stakeholders, including businesses, governments, journalists, and rankers;
  • international audiences;
  • internal audiences, including current staff and students and alumni.

These groups comprise a broad stakeholder universe that can be tracked across time.

Our research-focused World University Rankings surveys academics, while our teaching-focused rankings for the US and Japan are heavily based on the views of students. We are also beginning to explore the attitudes of prospective international students on THE Student.

But could we also survey businesses and governments for our research rankings, and academics, professional staff and alumni for our teaching rankings?

To continue reading, please visit: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/new-view-university-reputation