Student soapbox: the fantasy league
Akil Fazal explains why university rankings are plagued with error
Every year newspapers in the United Kingdom, such as the Times, publish a ranking analysis on the quality of universities throughout the country.1 Similar rankings, mainly carried out by media organisations, exist in the United States, other European countries, and in Asia. Every time an organisation announces its latest ranking table there is a furore, with some universities celebrating and others declaring that the tables are a sham. Few students, however, realise that these rankings can be irrelevant and misleading, and that they threaten to stretch the disparity within our already troubled higher education systems.
There is growing evidence that students are placing greater emphasis on the ranking of universities when deciding on which university to apply to. In a recent survey of 251232 college students, carried out by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California (UCLA), 8.6% of the respondents said that university rankings in magazines