Ranking winners stay grinners

University rankings demonstrate Keating’s Law of Mezzanines

Friso Selten and Paul Groth (Uni Amsterdam), with Cameron Neylon and Chun-Kai Huang (Curtin U) analyse the inputs and results of the Times Higher, ARWU and QS rankings to find that their distinct methodologies deliver different results, outside the world top 50 on each list.

However, the top 100s in each of the three, “are stable over time.” “There are not many new institutions that enter and subsequently few institutions that drop out of the top 100.”

It looks like an application of Paul Keating’s 1995  law of mezzanines, that the hard part is building a reputation at the base, “before you have got to the first floor. That is where all the sorting gets, I think, brought on in earnest. Once you are at the first floor, it is a bit like coming to the top of the mountain. As you get towards the apex there are fewer places to go, fewer places to hide and it is all more obvious. So, the selection becomes more automatic. But down at the base it is harder.”


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