Aim/purpose – The aim of the paper is to identify key indicators from selected international rankings that might be used while formulating a university’s strategy; especially in the context of Polish higher education regulations and requirements. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on literature review, accompanied by qualitative-comparative analysis of the most popular international rankings of universities; comparative analysis is also applied to methodologies accommodated by these rankings and to the organization of their output. Findings – Modern universities face growing pressure from the intensifying processes of internationalization and have to search for effective methods of increasing their competitive advantages worldwide. Thus, a well-defined and implemented strategy should play a significant role in this process. Research implications/limitations – The very recent discussions concerning the proposed new Polish Law on higher education and science prove that there is still limited understanding of the importance of university strategies. The government emphasizes the significance of improving international competitiveness of Polish higher education institutions; thus, the proper use of international rankings seems to be vital in responding to governmental visions. The research findings should help universities in the development and execution of strategies. Originality/value/contribution – The paper combines analysis of international rankings and strategy development/formulation. Therefore, it might be a useful tool for the administration of Polish universities and should help in understanding of university organization.