© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Institutional diversity - the variety of higher education institutions within a higher education system - has been a popular theme in higher education (policy) research. Despite the large amount of work, key challenges to a better understanding of institutional diversity have hardly been addressed. We argue that particularly the problems of conceptualizing and measuring diversity across higher education systems are underestimated. This article therefore focuses on selecting salient dimensions of difference (i.e. important dimensions of organizational action), setting the perimeter of the populations studied, dealing with outliers and choosing appropriate diversity measures. We highlight the careful steps that need to be taken to make comparisons across higher education systems meaningful and use European data to illustrate the consequences of particular choices.
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