IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


The industrialisation of university rankings: an analysis of rankers’ social media accounts

09 January 2020, 12:30 pm–2:00 pm

University rankings as race track numbers

Dr Lim discusses how university ranking organisations generate and preserve their business models in higher education.

Event Information

Open to





Centre for Global Higher Education


Room 822
UCL Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom

This seminar considers how the rankings organisations and ranking editors interact with a variety of audiences through an analysis of their social media accounts.

The analysis covers close to 13,000 social media entries from the Twitter account of the three ‘best-known’ international ranking organisations: the THE, the QS and the Shanghai ARWU. There is particular attention to the case of the Times Higher Education, which contributes the largest proportion of entries in the dataset, as an archetype of a ranking and educational consulting organisation.

The analysis is based on an earlier framework that aims to characterise rankers’ ‘weak expertise’ (Lim, 2018) and will show how university rankers claim a demand for their services and how they respond to their critics.

Through the analysis, the seminar contributes to the discussion around the increasing ‘industrialisation’ of university rankings and the development of ranking associated services including conferences and summits, data consulting, and brand management services. The variety of these services highlights the increasing number and also differentiation of ranking audiences and the ways in which university rankers cultivate target markets.


About the Speaker

Dr Miguel Antonio Lim

at University of Manchester

Dr Lim is a Lecturer in Education and International Development, Research Coordinator and Research Impact Coordinator at the Manchester Institute of Education.

He is also co-convenor of the International Researchers’ Network of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) and the Higher Education at Manchester (HERE @ Manchester) Research Network. Previously, he was EU-Marie Curie Fellow at Aarhus University, Denmark. His research interests include transnational higher education, performance metrics, internationalisation, and reputation management in higher education.