A subsidiary of the annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the reputation rankings are based exclusively on a poll that has attracted almost 31,000 responses from 149 countries in just two annual rounds since 2011 – making it the largest exercise of its kind in the world.
The 2012 tables will be based on a record sample of 17,554 invitation-only responses from experienced academics, an increase of 30 per cent on the first year’s responses.
The ranking is based purely on subjective judgment - but it is the expert judgment of those who know excellence in teaching and research better than anyone – academics themselves.
And there is no doubt that reputation really matters in a competitive global market. A strong “brand” can help institutions to attract and retain the best staff and students, as well as to develop strong collaborations with industry or university research partners.
As Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Melbourne, has said: “Reputation is itself an identifiable market – one that matters and has material effects. It is created by a number of accumulating factors: the weight of activity in hundreds of different institutional sites, relations and transactions; conscious promotional campaigns, major events that result in news reporting, memories of past activities; and word of mouth effects”.
The Academic Reputation Survey used to create the World Reputation Rankings is carried out by Ipsos, for Times Higher Education’s rankings data supplier, Thomson Reuters.
The survey is invitation only and academics are targeted to be statistically representative of their geographical region and discipline. They are questioned about their narrow fields and are asked to respond based on their direct experience.
The survey was carried out in spring 2011 and the results were used to create two of the 13, largely objective performance indicators that are used for the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, published on 6 October 2011.
But the reputation survey data will be revealed in isolation on 15 March 2012 in the World Reputation Rankings.
Some 44 per cent of respondents in 2011 were from the Americas, 28 per cent from Europe and 25 per cent from Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Ninety per cent of respondents described their role as an academic, researcher or institutional leader and respondents had spent on average 16 years in the academy.
There was an excellent balanced spread across the disciplines: the physical sciences and engineering and technology took about 20 per cent of the responses each, with 19 per cent for social sciences, 17 per cent for clinical subjects, 16 per cent for life sciences and 7 per cent for the arts and humanities.
• View the 2011 World Reputation Rankings
• The 2012 World Reputation Rankings will be published here at 00.01 GMT on Thursday 15 March