Study 3 (preregistered: University rankings as hierarchy legitimising practice) has shown that students who think that University is meritocratic (thus endorsing what we label as “descriptive meritocracy”) and those who think that University should be meritocratic (thus endorsing “prescriptive meritocracy”) think that other students should rely on University rankings (which we labelled “prescriptive ranking”). This has been shown by the significant and positive correlations between prescriptive ranking and both descriptive (r. = .15, p < .01) and prescriptive meritocracy (r = .11, p < .05). On the other hand, descriptive ranking was correlated neither with prescriptive, nor with descriptive meritocracy. Study 4 aims to further explore these relationships by investigating the legitimizing role of meritocracy as a justice principle (Deutsch, 1976; Davey, 1999; Song Hing et al 2011). Meritocracy refers to the distributive justice principle of equity where individuals are rewarded proportionally to their effort and abilities (Davey, 1999; Son Hing & Zanna 2011). The other two distributive principle of justice (Deutsch, 1975) are: equality (where identical outcomes are distributed to everyone) and need (where outcomes are allocated to those who most need them). Systems and individuals follow the equity principle when they foster efficiency and productivity (Deutsch, 1975) and this is the rule that is generally followed in organizations (Bacharach, 1979) and universities (Adnett, 2010; Claeys-Kulik, Ekman & Stober 2019). On the other hand, the equality principle dictates that everyone gets the same outcome independently of their effort or input to the system. This principle is followed when the goal is to maintain pleasurable relationships (e.g., friendship). Finally, the principle of need refers to allocating resources to those who need it the most and it is followed when the system fosters individual growth and welfare (e.g., redistributive policies). In this study we will investigate the relationship between the beliefs about how students should use university rankings (prescriptive ranking), the belief on how students use ranking (descriptive ranking) , the ranking's legitimacy and the three principles of distributive justice. We will operationalize the three distribution rules in terms of beliefs in how outcomes should be allocated by means of four items newly created for each construct based on the study by Autin, Batruch, and Butera (2015) on assessment practices in educational institutions.