Understanding the relationship between university characteristics and prestige
Purpose Being a prestigious institution depends on gaining respect in the eyes of various stakeholders with diverse expectations. Existing research is silent on how university characteristics affect judgments of prestige and, therefore, presents an incomplete picture of prestige dynamics in higher education. This paper aims to fill this gap in the literature by empirically examining the stakeholders' evaluation of university characteristics in terms of prestige value. Design/methodology/approach The entire population of universities (public and private) in Turkish higher education constitutes the sample of the study. The analytic hierarchy process technique is applied to ascertain how stakeholders prioritize university characteristics in terms of prestige value, and regression analysis is used to determine the effects of these characteristics on university selectivity. Findings The findings suggest a novel conceptual model of university prestige, which establishes its multilayered and fragmented nature. Accordingly, universities may be subject to multiple prestige hierarchies based on universal or context-specific criteria, in the eyes of various stakeholders, and based on different markers of success. Research limitations/implications The empirical analyses are limited to the stakeholder groups that are key to university outcomes in Turkish higher education, and to selectivity in admissions as the only visible marker of success in this context. Originality/value The study enhances existing literature that posits that universities are subject to a single prestige hierarchy based on common metrics of performance. It illustrates the uneven landscape in which university prestige evolves by developing a wider and deeper focus on university characteristics.