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Top 10 Dumbest University Rankings Ever

There's quite the competition out there for the Dumbest University Rankings Ever. Let us take you through the Top 10, and join us on #DumbRankings with your own suggestions.
This article is more than 7 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

There really are some daft university rankings out there. And seemingly a new one arrives on the scene every week.

Many of these I find extremely annoying as this previous ranking of rankings by level of irritation helpfully demonstrates. Leaving aside the mainstream league tables (many of which are fundamentally silly too) there are still some really spectacularly awful rankings around.
So, here’s my personal Top 10 of the Dumbest University Rankings Ever:

  1. Spiked! Free Speech University Ranking – although I may have previously suggested this is the best ranking ever, I’m now pretty sure the opposite is true.
  2. Student Sex League – sadly the compilers of this one seem to have been abstaining for a couple of years but it remains a very silly ranking indeed.
  3. Webometrics – I commented on this exciting league table recently but am still at a loss to get underneath its methodology, which does seem to be completely incomprehensible. 
  4. U-Multirank – massively expensive, not at all comprehensive and of extremely questionable benefit. And arguably not actually a ranking either.
  5. 50 under 50 – A rather arbitrary looking age-based list of universities – really not a very good idea.
  6. People and Planet – in the same league as the free speech ranking – campaigning and subjectivity dressed up with dodgy data.
  7. Astronaut alumni – a rather limited ranking this.
  8. Graduate rich list – who wouldn’t want to know which university has produced the most millionaires? No-one, you would hope. Sadly not.
  9. University Challenge winners – This one’s not been updated for a while but is probably unnecessary, given that we all know who will be on top.
  10. The Golden Age – as yet unpublished but already breaking into the top 10, this not at all arbitrary list offers a “round-up of the top 100 universities founded between 1945 and 1966”  It all sounds a bit Simon Bates (one for those in their golden years that) but the great news for those who drop out of the under 50 list is that they are bound to appear in this one. Hurrah!

Also rans

Sadly there was no room in the Top 10 for the terrific 50 under 50 degrees north ranking or 20 over 500 or indeed for the 30 under 6 ranking.

Similarly, this wholly fictional ranking of made up institutions was also just not quite dumb enough to make the list.

Are there any other #DumbRankings I’ve missed out here?

8 responses to “Top 10 Dumbest University Rankings Ever

    1. And yet there is a logic to it and the methodology is pretty transparent. Great result too for Archbishop of Canterbury, The

  1. This is very harsh on U-Multirank (interest declared) – it’s really not a ranking, despite what the name suggests. It’s the antidote to rankings. It’s a comparison tool that allows you to make your own ranking based on the criteria you want to use. The methodology is transparent and allows performance in diverse areas to be rated without making damaging presumptions about notions of what might constitute a ‘best’ university.
    As for the investment, it’s cost about 1% of the cost of the UK’s REF and covers 31 disciplines in over 1,300 unis across more than 90 countries. In many countries it’s become the go-to tool for sophisticated benchmarking of uni performance. It’s a massive aid to quality enhancement of HE globally. Cheap at twice the price.
    The UK has been disappointingly disengaged in the exercise though with only a few dozen unis actively choosing to participate at first. (Of course, no one has to ‘opt in’ on most rankings and most unis wouldn’t.) Many were covered anyway using publicly available data.
    That may be about to change because U-Multirank has made it a whole lot easier to use data that we already collect in the UK. I think they’ll start to recognise the benefit especially with Brexit making international competition a more treacherous challenge.

    1. Don’t think too much about it, I don’t think this person has the ability to say what he really means. Hiding behind the ambiguity of being serious or sarcastic. People are no doubt going to disagree with me, but to put the free speech ranking at the top as the most silly is demonstrating that he doesn’t pay attention to current events, across the pond or at home.

  2. The Spiked! ranking is well needed, to bring to light the terrible speech-control that is becoming prevalent in Western HE. If you don’t think it’s necessary, well, you must have your head buried in the sand.

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