Higher positions in global university rankings make institutions more attractive to international students and to leading university partners, research has shown.
In a survey of institutions ranked in the global top 100 conducted by the World 100 Reputation Network, two-thirds of respondents say that the Times Higher Education World University Rankings are perceived to "matter most".
According to the preliminary results reported at the World 100 conference in Hong Kong last week, the vast majority of respondents say that rankings are not the most critical external performance metric.
However, two-thirds add that their institutions have developed strategies designed to support "strong/robust/higher" positions in global league tables.
The remaining third say that their institutions have set clear targets to improve their rankings.
Louise Simpson, director of the Knowledge Partnership and head of the World 100 Reputation Network, said that the survey had found evidence that "a university's ability to forge new partnerships of real value with other world-leading international universities had become easier with a sustained rise" in the rankings.
The volume of demand for places also increased with loftier league-table positions, as did universities' ability to attract top international academics, she added.
Dr Simpson warned, however, that there was "little or no evidence" that institutions had communications and marketing strategies in place to reflect ranking changes.