Much of the following post was penned as part of a LinkedIn comment response to an article written by Dean Hoke on the 15th June 2016; the article, and my comment response, can be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ranking-uae-universities-us-news-world-report-vs-qs-dean-hoke . It provides important context for the piece that follows.
University rankings are currently being produced in their multitudes: each year, one can expect various offerings from QS Quacquarelli Symonds, Times Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong (ARWU), The Guardian, Forbes, Business Week, US News – and others. Some of these rankings are global, some are regional, others rank universities by Subject or by Faculty.
Of course, to justify its existence, each ranking needs to provide a unique, fresh analysis – and different rankings will necessarily yield different results, as a consequence of different methodologies. These differences can surprise, and can (and should) be cause for question – all the more so when rankings seem to be measuring the same universities or nations.