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Issues in Educational Research, 2020, Vol 30(1), 79-96.
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University rankings: A review of methodological flaws

Muhammad Ashraf Fauzi
Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Malaysia

Christine Nya-Ling Tan
Auckland Institute of Studies, New Zealand

Mahyuddin Daud
International Islamic University, Malaysia

Muhammad Mukhtar Noor Awalludin
Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Malaysia

University rankings have gradually become an issue for concern in the academic community worldwide. Several mechanisms with different methodologies have been developed to rank the universities appropriately. However, some ranking tools have notable issues, especially with the indicators adopted. Some are based merely on research performance, whilst others have focused solely on specific fields, such as science and technology - which could have deprived those in the arts and social sciences. This paper uses a narrative review to highlight a number of inconsistencies in the methodologies applied to rank universities. Five main ranking tools commonly applied to the world's universities are reviewed, namely Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education (THE), Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Leiden University ranking and Webometrics ranking. We found that several flaws in the rankings caused inconsistencies in university placings in different rankings. Suggestions for integrating multiple criteria and indicators for better ranking exercises are proposed.
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Authors: Muhammad Ashraf Fauzi is a senior lecturer at Faculty of Industrial Management, Universiti Malaysia Pahang. He completed his PhD in the Faculty of Management, Multimedia University. His research interests include knowledge management, organisational behaviour, marketing, leadership, entrepreneurship, quality management, and project management.
Email: ashrafauzi@ump.edu.my

Christine Tan Nya-Ling is a senior lecturer of the Information Technology Programmes at the Auckland Institute of Studies (AIS), Auckland, New Zealand. Her current research interests focus on knowledge management, knowledge sharing, service quality, electronic commerce and research methodology.
Email: christinet@ais.ac.nz

Mahyuddin Daud is an Assistant Professor at Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Law, International Islamic University Malaysia. He obtained his PhD in Cyber Law (Internet Content Regulation) from International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).
Email: mahyuddin@iium.edu.my

Muhammad Mukhtar Noor Awalludin is currently a supply chain manager in Al-Ekhwan Marine Engineering Sdn Bhd. Prior to that, Mukhtar was a full-time PhD researcher at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Pahang in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi Petronas.
Email: mmukhtar1981@gmail.com

Please cite as: Fauzi, M. A., Tan, C. N. L., Daud, M. & Awalludin, M. M. N. (2020). University rankings: A review of methodological flaws. Issues in Educational Research, 30(1), 79-96. http://www.iier.org.au/iier30/fauzi.pdf

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Created 8 Feb 2020. Last correction: 8 Feb 2020.
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