A new way of ranking universities

Jan 17, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- An academic at the University of Hertfordshire has challenged the way university league tables are calculated and presents a radically different way of formulating university rankings in the UK, in a paper released this month.

The , entitled ‘A New Approach to University Rankings’, published in the January edition of Higher Education - The International Journal of Higher Education Research, Dr. Christopher Tofallis shows an alternative way to calculate league table results by avoiding the problem of having to add together ‘apples and pears’ – quantities which are measured in different units.

This research could make a significant change to how universities are ranked. By using data published in The Complete University Guide, Dr. Tofallis shows a comparison to current league table calculations against his own methodology, which raises the question – are current university rankings a fair representation of UK institutions?

Dr. Tofallis said: “The paper focuses on the issue of how different measures are aggregated. All current publishers of league tables use an additive approach which includes a normalisation step to allow the data to become ‘comparable’. The problem is that there are different ways of achieving this comparability, and each way leads to a different ranking.”

The paper proposes a multiplicative approach to aggregation which overcomes these difficulties. The attraction of multiplying the data, rather than adding it together, means a normalisation step is not required. The idea for this method of combining variables measured in different units comes from the way it is achieved in scientific equations.

He continues: “When the multiplicative approach is used the fact that some variables are numerically much greater than others does not matter since a rescaling of any variable (by multiplying by a positive constant) would have no effect on the rankings. For example, consider a switch from measuring expenditures in thousands of pounds to pounds; this would simply lead to a multiplication of the score by 1000 for every institution.”

Dr. Tofallis’ methodology is very general and can be applied to many other types of problem, forming part of wider research that will see a similar formula applied to other large data sets.

The full paper is available now and can be viewed online at: www.springerlink.com/content/apn7h557511x7006/

Explore further: How music listening programmes can be easily fooled

Provided by University of Herfordshire

4.5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New Cambridge study measures countries' well-being

Dec 22, 2011

At the heart of any country’s progress lies the well-being of its people. How to accurately and effectively determine well-being is the subject of a recent study at the University of Cambridge.

Hearing theory music to MP3 generation ears

Dec 01, 2011

The revival of a 150-year-old theory on how the human ear protects itself from damage caused by loud sounds could lead to better noise protection says a researcher from The Australian National University.

Recommended for you

Bribery 'hits 1.6 billion people a year'

2 hours ago

A total of 1.6 billion people worldwide – nearly a quarter of the global population – are forced to pay bribes to gain access to everyday public services, according to a new book by academics at the Universities of Birmingham ...

How music listening programmes can be easily fooled

Feb 26, 2015

For well over two decades, researchers have sought to build music listening software that can address the deluge of music growing faster than our Spotify-spoilt appetites. From software that can tell you ...

Nature journal to begin offering double-blind peer review

Feb 23, 2015

Well known and respected journal, Nature, will begin next month offering researchers who submit their work for peer review, the option of having it done via the double-blind method—whereby both submitters and re ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.