Global rankings in the Nordic region: challenging the identity of research-intensive universities?Jan 26 2016
Journal article in Higher Education, published online January 25, 2016.
Global university rankings currently attract considerable attention, and it is often assumed that such rankings may cause universities to prioritize activities and outcomes that will have a positive effect in their ranking position. A possible consequence of this could be the spread of a particular model of an ‘‘ideal’’ university. This article tests this assumption through an analysis of a sample of research-intensive universities in the Nordic region. Through document analysis and interviews with institutional leaders and staff from central administration, the study explores whether high-ranked Nordic universities take strategic measures as a response to global rankings, and whether the traditional identities of the universities are changing, as they are influenced and affected by the rankings. The study shows that rankings have a relatively modest impact on decision-making and strategic actions in the Nordic universities studied, and that there are few signs of rankings challenging the existing identities of the universities in this region.