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The three major international ranking systems that are used for this purpose are The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Rankings of World Universities as well as The CHE ExcellenceRanking 2010 (Gallagher, 2011). The essay will start off with a definition of the university league tables and how they work, reasons for their popularity and the substantial growth in their use over the past years. Next, it will explore various areas in relation with the league tables such as critical analysis of the three ranking systems to gauge their strengths and weaknesses, debate on the evidentiary basis of league tables to explain the criteria upon which the universities are ranked and criticism as well as the limitations to the validity of university ranking systems. Lastly, it will single out the methodology that stands out. The need for and growth of ranking systems: The world is in the process of getting preoccupied with rankings more and more every day. Just like scarcity, having access to the ‘finest’ as well as prestige more or less mark the purchase of almost every commodity in our daily lives, so are the customers of the tertiary sector continuously looking out for pointers that improve their capability to know and access the best in the tertiary sector (Salmi & Saroyan, 2007). Criteria for measuring the rankings: In most of the university ranking tables, the criteria used to measure the rankings is: To be distinct about what the ranking will measure. To use a variety of indicators and multiple procedures rather than a single, weighted ranking. To associate comparable programs or institutions. At the institutional level, use rankings for planned preparation and quality enhancement purposes. At the government level, use rankings to kindle a philosophy of quality. Use rankings as one of the tools available to notify and update students, families and employers and encourage public debate (Salmi & Saroyan, 2007) Analysis of the ranking systems: Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) rankings were formulated in 1998 and were more formally known as ‘The Academic Rankings of the World Universities’ (ARWU). Universities that have field medallists; highly cited researchers as well as Nobel laureates are included in the ranking. According to this criterion, ARWU is not trying to compare all the universities throughout the world; instead it is targeting the world’s top research universities only. ARWU initially picks out around 1000 universities from throughout the world, of which only 500 are later on ranked in the league tables. For all ARWU indicators, data is usually collected from third parties that include the official site of the Nobel Prize as well as numerous Thomson Reuters websites in order to access citation and publications (Rauhvargers, 2011). Moving on to ‘The Times higher Education World University Rankings’, it is apparent that, published in 2004, it was an ‘answer’ to the Shanghai ARWU rankings. The indicated drive of ‘The World University Rankings’ is “to recognise universities as the multi-faceted organisations that they are, to provide a global comparison of their success against the notional mission of remaining or becoming world-class” (Salmi & Saroyan, 2007). This ranking separates 300 in each of the five faculty areas as well as about 600 universities and uses sources such as incorporate surveys from individual academics and researchers, employer organisations, third-party data as well as university information (Salmi & Saroyan, 2007). Lastly, The CHE Centre for Higher Education Development that designed an ‘
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