University rankers: actors in the transformation of higher education management and managers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


While university rankings have been extensively researched, little has been said in comparison about the actors producing these rankings. In order to be able to capture how rankings shape and ultimately transform the transnational higher education landscape, there is a need to also look beyond rankers’ methodologies and their effects on policy makers, universities, and students, and focus on the rankers themselves. In order to advance the understanding of the role of rankings in transnational higher education governance, this chapter outlines the socio-material aspects of their production, in particular the key actors, their networks, their practices, and their relationships with university managers. The analysis draws primarily upon ethnographic data and publicly available data about rankers’ organisational characteristics, their activities, and their products and services. It particularly highlights how rankers continuously engage with multiple stakeholders and in doing so build and nurture partnerships with governments and universities – and in particular with university managers; how they legitimise their often-challenged authority by engaging with other actors, including their critics; how they exploit available technologies; and how they continuously adapt to a rapidly changing global environment. Taken together, this sustained effort leads to the increasing, but not unquestioned, status of rankers as global higher education experts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on the Transformation of Higher Education
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978 1 80037 820 9
ISBN (Print)978 1 80037 820 9
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2023


  • higher education management
  • ranking entrepreneurs
  • university managers
  • University rankings


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