In 2016/17, The World 100 Reputation Network annual research project explored the reputation surveys that contribute to major university rankings, with a particular focus on ranking influencers: academics and employers.

Academics and universities know that data matters when it comes to world university rankings. As a result, tremendous effort goes into getting research in the right journals and maximizing citations. However, what is sometimes forgotten is that the biggest indicator of ranking is reputation, i.e. the opinion of published scholars and employers. TThis actually forms a third of the final THE score and half of the QS score.Thousands of academics and employers from across the globe determine which universities are the best in their fields. How do they make their choices? What influences them to consider their nominated universities to be the absolute best of a world-class elite group? How readily could their estimations be altered year to year? And ultimately, what can those in charge of universities’ reputation management do to put their institutions in lights for these audiences?

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The Ranking Influencers 2016/17: How academics and employers determine the best universities - Executive Summary

We employed both quantitative and qualitative research methods, using a global online survey of academic faculty and professional staff working at top universities, qualitative interviews with academic faculty at global universities and a global online survey of employers to inform the research. In total, 103 universities, and their faculty/staff, across 30 countries contributed to this research by way of facilitation, interview or survey completion.

The research found that whilst many academics see the rankings as fundamentally flawed, the rankings are the first place most go to get a feel for a university’s reputation or see how they their own institution is performing.