This seminar discusses how university ranking organisations generate and preserve their business models in higher education. It will consider how the rankings organisations and ranking editors interact with a variety of audiences through an analysis of their social media accounts. The analysis covers close to 13,000 social media entries from the Twitter account of the three ‘best-known’ international ranking organisations: the THE, the QS and the Shanghai ARWU. There is particular attention to the case of the Times Higher Education, which contributes the largest proportion of entries in the dataset, as an archetype of a ranking and educational consulting organization.
The analysis is based on an earlier framework that aims to characterise rankers’ ‘weak expertise’ (Lim, 2018) and will show how university rankers claim a demand for their services and how they respond to their critics. Through the analysis, the seminar contributes to the discussion around the increasing ‘industrialisation’ of university rankings and the development of ranking associated services including conferences and summits, data consulting, and brand management services. The variety of these services highlights the increasing number and also differentiation of ranking audiences and the ways in which university rankers cultivate target markets.
You can listen to the seminar here: