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University Rankings

University rankings have attracted increasing interest and gained importance from several groups including students, parents, institutions, academics, policy makers, news media, etc.

Despite the several criticisms, many people think that a university’s position in a given ranking is regarded as some kind of criteria for educational quality. Especially, prospective students planning to go abroad for higher education have been inclined to use the positions of the universities in the rankings for their decision-making processes. Based on these facts, university administrators have felt pressure to improve management practices and been occupied with the problem of how to advance in these rankings. In order to develop any strategy for climbing in rankings, the decision maker of an institution can be able to compute the scaled scores of the indicators for each of the rankings and overall score as well, given the raw data. However, because of some difficulties like in obtaining some data or in understanding and applying the methodologies of rankings, it may not be possible to do these computations exactly. Nevertheless, one can try to obtain estimates with great accuracy, possibly with a software. WURS designed to perform such estimation processes.

Although the number of university rankings is growing every year, the most popular and the influential ones are possibly The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Times Higher Education University Ranking (THE) and Quacquarelli Symonds World University Ranking (QS). All of these three ranking systems present an overall score, and the respective rank reflecting performance. Although they have used different criteria and weights, the common procedure in constructing their rankings can be summarized in three steps:

  1. Collect the data from the institutions themselves and the external databases such as Scopus or Web of Science.
  2. Scale the data to obtain a score for each indicator as a number ranging from 0 to 100. The scaling procedures of THE and QS are almost similar. Both systems apply a ‘‘z-transformation’’ to the raw scores of the indicators. The resulting values must then be scaled in some way to avoid the negative values. ARWU scales all raw values based on the best performing entity.
  3. Aggregate the scaled scores with their assigned weights. This final overall score is used to rank order the institutions.

The software WURS simulates all the three of them.

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