A surprising factor that influences college rankings

Though colleges often focus on ratios and research to improve their rankings, international collaboration may need to become top-of-mind for them as well, Ellie Bothwell writes in Times Higher Education (THE).

A study published by The Royal Society found that schools that are closer to major airports tended to perform better in rankings. University of Warwick and Alan Turing Institute researchers looked at the correlation between how colleges performed in the Shanghai Rankings' Academic

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The researchers found that colleges with easy access to global transportation hubs rose faster in rankings than similarly ranked colleges without access.

But the researchers also say airports probably aren't the key factor in and of themselves—the key probably lies in the kinds of research activities that proximity to an airport enables. Weisi Guo, an associate professor at University of Warwick and a co-author of the study, says the research found that "face-to-face international interactions underpin university excellence."

Of course, most colleges cannot change their location. Rather, Guo suggests schools identify ways to increase international collaboration.

The study also has implications for future campus expansions. Ganna Pogrebna, professor of economics at the University of Birmingham and another co-author of the study, says the study's findings could encourage regional and industrial planners and policymakers to consider airport location when they identify sites for future campuses (Bothwell, THE, 10/18).

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