Document Type

Book Chapter


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

book chapter in Zgaga, P., Techler, U., Brennan, J. (eds): The Globalization Challenge for European Higher Education: Convergence and Diversity, Centres and Peripheries. Peter Lang, 2013


The arrival of global rankings in 2003 was a clarion call for urgent reform of European higher education. The results of the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities and the Times Higher Education QS World University Ranking, first published in 2003 and 2004 respectively, challenged the perceived wisdom about the reputation and excellence of European universities. Since then, the EU and its Member States have sought to reshape and modernise higher education in Europe. This paper argues that the emergence of global rankings was not only a challenge to perceived wisdom, but also a stimulus for change in European higher education policy. While it is too soon to evaluate whether new policies have made a direct impact on the performance of European countries in global rankings, it is now time for debate on the apparent influence of global rankings on higher education policy in Europe.