Zen and the Art of University Rankings in Art and Design

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Rankings in higher education are now common, but do they mean anything? Can they accurately reflect the quality of an institution? University rankings, while imperfect, serve as a proxy for comparative measures of quality. This paper begins by providing a philosophical and historical profile of the notion of “quality,” considers what might constitute quality in higher education, and examines how rankings specifically convey this impression for the disciplines of art and design. The paper illustrates the wider role played by rankings in the highly competitive international higher education sector by exploring the various types of rankings, their methodologies, and the criteria they use to measure institutions. It highlights how different rankings measure different research and teaching activities, and the various tensions that can arise across disciplinary boundaries; among institutional and departmental priorities; in research, teaching and learning; and across national and international dimensions within the fields of art and design when rankings compare unique offerings quantitatively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-255
Number of pages13
JournalShe Ji
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Art and design
  • Higher education
  • Quality
  • Rankings


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