Business schools rankings, if conducted according to the basic principles of impartiality, transparency and consistency, add real value to the market. In the past years, many new ranking schemes have entered the scene, evidence that the market demands them. Different stakeholders –prospective students, recruiters and corporate clients- see rankings as additional criteria to gather further information and make the educational offerings more easily comparable. It is thus legitimate that an initiative that provides value to the market has its returns and becomes profitable for those who undertake such effort. I have no objections here. I appreciate the positive attitude of those ranking producers who contribute to the transparency of the activity by engaging in a constructive debate with representatives of the institutions examined.
The rankings phenomenon is not unique to education. "Rankings galore" is common to many other industries. Take law firms for example (example one and example two) and consulting companies (example one and example two), or even auditors.
Certainly, rankings are here to stay and will probably proliferate in the future. Once European higher education systems in Europe adopt the same structure and cross border movement of students increases, applicants to a diverse set of disciplines will need to compare many different elements and will use rankings as an instrument to decide where to study. The recent flourish of worldwide university rankings anticipates and evidences this.
As Dean Thomas and Della Bradshaw point out, accreditation agencies such as EQUIS, AMBA and AACSB do not endorse rankings and I believe it’s not their job to make their own rankings. They can, however, contribute by providing guidelines or recommendations that make the activity more transparent and reliable. For example, EQUAL, the think tank for EQUIS, published a document with the requirements that, according to the business education community, rankings should desirably meet. An interesting exercise would be to evaluate the existing league tables according to those guidelines. How many of them actually pass the test?