With so much university rankings released and published these days, can such rankings be trusted? Jill Johnes wrote an article at The Conversation UK today that provides an analysis of the league tables published in the media such as The Complete University Guide, The Sunday Times Good University Guide or the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

"These university rankings, which present a list of institutions in the form of a league table, suggest a precision which is unlikely to be supported by detailed examination of the data. They deliberately draw attention to the performance of each university relative to all others. But often, the methodology is such that the differences between universities, which can appear large, conceal the fact that there are only very small differences in the scores from which the rankings have been derived."

She compared as well a range of indicators they make use to construct their own league tables. And illustrated the use of weighting system to measure how universities fare on each individual measure, compared to how they fare in the actual index. However, she sighted that users of rankings for whom these dimensions are of particular interest would therefore appear to be poorly served by the overall ranking.

These rankings have been really significant to individual universities. Both international and local rankings have been used by students, employers and institutions for their own good. The general concern is, according to the author, that some league tables are at risk to cheating behaviour and universities that manipulating or reclassifying the data to increase their rankings. These things endangered those who rely on the rankings as they were being misled by universities whose goal is to only raise their standing in the league table.

"University rankings should come with a serious health warning and be handled with great care."

Read the full article at theconversation.com