What about excellence in teaching? A benevolent ranking of universities

Kristof De Witte*, Lenka Hudrlikova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Web of Science)


Existing university rankings apply fixed and exogenous weights based on a theoretical framework, stakeholder or expert opinions. Fixed weights cannot embrace all requirements of a ‘good ranking’ according to the berlin principles. As the strengths of universities differ, the weights on the ranking should differ as well. This paper proposes a fully nonparametric methodology to rank universities. The methodology is in line with the berlin principles. It assigns to each university the weights that maximize (minimize) the impact of the criteria where university performs relatively well (poor). The method accounts for background characteristics among universities and evaluates which characteristics have an impact on the ranking. In particular, it accounts for the level of tuition fees, an english speaking environment, size, research or teaching orientation. In general, medium sized universities in english speaking countries benefit from the benevolent ranking. On the contrary, we observe that rankings with fixed weighting schemes reward large and research oriented universities. Especially swiss and german universities significantly improve their position in a more benevolent ranking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-364
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • University ranking
  • Endogenous weight selection
  • Conditional efficiency
  • Higher education

Cite this