College Rankings Go Global

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Yung-Chi Hou, Associate Professor and Director of Public Affairs at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei, Taiwan, in Washington, DC office of U.S. News & World Report

College rankings have expanded internationally over the past decade and are currently being published in many countries besides the United States, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Russia, Greece, Canada, Australia, China, and Australia. One clear explanation of this trend comes from the Institute for Higher Education Policy, which recently published "College and University Rankings: Global Perspectives and American Challenges."

The college rankings published elsewhere generally take into account the specific characteristics of a particular country's higher education system. Some of the rankings particular to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany are done with the prospective student in mind, like the U.S. News America's Best Colleges rankings. Others are done for higher education policy reasons. In the context of growing internationalization of academic rankings, Yung-Chi Hou, associate professor and director of public affairs at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei, Taiwan, who has published rankings of universities in Taiwan since 2002, recently visited me at the U.S. News offices in Washington, D.C. She came to discuss her Taiwanese rankings and seek advice and input from U.S. News on her latest rankings to be published in 2007: "A Study of Colleges Rankings in Taiwan—Based on Measures from U.S.News & World Report."

Earlier in 2007, after I visited Taiwan, I helped Hou with some of the problems she had in developing the first-ever rankings of Taiwanese universities. Her rankings are published for the academic community in Taiwan. It's a priority in Taiwan to have top universities so the country can remain competitive worldwide. Many countries have found that rankings can be one important tool to aid academics in achieving quality improvements.

Hou and I discussed analytically how to measure graduation rates, the best way to compute to what degree a school has become international in its focus, how to measure research expenditures, factoring in faculty productivity through counting publications in academic journals, and the evolution of her ranking methodology in the future.