The latest QS Rankings were published recently, confirming themes from recent years with the continuing rise of the leading Chinese and French universities in the upper echelons of the league table. A less welcome trend was a noticeable decline in rankings positions for the majority of World 100 Reputation Network member universities.

With scores from QS’s academic and employer reputation surveys making up 50% of the total, the QS ranking has traditionally seen World 100 members – with their strong focus on building global reputation – improving their positions.

However, 25 of 41 World 100 members saw declines in their overall rank compared to last year, with only 11 improving their positions. Universities from the APAC region saw the best performances, with Melbourne rising four places to 33, and fellow Australian institutions Wollongong and Newcastle also improving.

In Asia, NUS retained their position at 11th in the ranking, CUHK were up one to 39 and both Keio and Kyushu from Japan improved their positions. New member Universitas Indonesia saw the biggest jump in rank, rising 42 places.

Even more concerning than the rankings declines were the academic reputation scores, with a significant number of World 100 members seeing their scores for academic reputation, which makes up 40% of the total score, declining. 23 W100 members saw their academic reputation scores fall; only 15 saw improvements on the previous year.

Many of the changes were minor, but there has been a big change since 2020 when 90% of World 100 Member universities increased or maintained their Academic Reputation scores in the QS World University Rankings.

The reasons for this change are not immediately clear. It may be a reflection of the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year’s World 100 Reputation Network research project indicated that global academics identified a small number of the ‘superbrands’ as being prominent in the pandemic.

So the QS scores may be a further indication that not all universities were able to leverage reputational benefit despite the unprecedented profile opportunities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It should be noted that QS uses five years of data from their Academic Reputation Survey, so the full Covid 19 effects will take some time to work through.

We will watch with particular interest when the Times Higher Education World University Rankings are published in the Autumn, to see whether this trend is also reflected in the results of their academic reputation survey.

THE’s Chief Data Officer Duncan Ross will join us at the World 100 Annual Conference in Montreal to analyse the latest rankings and the influence of reputation.