The practice of ranking public entities is not widespread in Italy. Although assessments
of the quality of public services are made more and more often and the demand for public
accountability is growing, neither local governments nor hospitals and local health agencies
are ranked in official lists.
In this context, Universities are an exception: the paper first discusses what are the causes
of this different treatment. The metrics used to rank Universities and the effects of the
methods are then analysed. This discussion allows to highlight how the purpose and the
destination of the rank influence the whole process. Some references to the international
practice are also given.
One more aspect which is considered concerns the effects of rankings on the higher
education institutions (HEIs). The variables used to rank institution are de facto assuming the
role of key performance indicators. The strategy of each institution is therefore strongly
influenced by centrally stated factors: this raises a question on the feasibility for Universities
to develop their own plans and competitive strategies.