U of T’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
The European University Association report
cites research showing that immigration policies
of the Netherlands favour applicants with graduate degrees from the global top 200 schools.
Brazil selects students for scholarships to study
abroad at institutions that rank well in the THE
and QS rankings. India recently took this to a
new level by announcing that only foreign institutions that have placed in one of the top three
rankings systems will be permitted to open
branch campuses in that country.
Governments in China and Japan have
undertaken initiatives to create their own top-ranked universities by channeling research funding to a few institutions, said Dr. Jones in an
interview. In Canada, though, rankings haven’t
had much impact on public policy, based on the
evidence. It’s not that universities haven’t tried:
the U15 group of 15 Canadian research-intensive
universities grouped themselves in this way, in
part to advocate for a greater share of government research dollars, he said.
Alex Usher, president of the Toronto-based
Higher Education Strategy Associates, noted that
from regional rankings to discipline-specific
ratings and reputational league tables.
Criticism has dogged all of them to a greater
or lesser extent because of the data and method-
ologies they employ. Even THE’s Mr. Baty, at the
Worldviews Conference on Global Trends in
Media and Higher Education in Toronto this past
June, acknowledged that all rankings have “seri-
Chief among these is that rankings measure
largely research output and reputation and don’t
take into account differing institutional missions,
said Philip Altbach, director of Boston College’s
Center for International Higher Education, who
also spoke at the Worldviews Conference. Teach-
ing and learning are ignored for the most part
because they aren’t easily measured on an inter-
national scale, he said.
Another drawback is that rankings systems
cover just a small fraction of the world’s institu-
tions, between one and three percent of some
17,500 universities, according to a report by the
Brussels-based European University Association.
The humanities, fine arts and social sciences are
under-represented in the rankings because most
of this research is published in books rather than
in the journals used as bibliometric indicators.
Also excluded are journals published in languages
other than English, because of their lower citation
counts, according to the report.
University of Alberta President Indira Sama-
rasekera has argued that too many measures,
especially those used for reputational rankings,
rely on subjective opinions collected through
surveys of students and faculty members. Rank-
ings also fail to consider government and busi-
ness investments in university R&D and tech-
nology transfer, to the detriment of economic
and technological powerhouses like Israel and
Germany, she wrote.
But arguments like these haven’t dampened
the popularity of rankings – and, many observers
agree, their influence over institutional behaviour
and public policy is growing. “Rankings have
become an industry, partly because they sell newspapers and magazines, but also because many universities devote considerable attention to trying
to increase their position in the rankings,” said
Glen Jones, Ontario Research Chair on Postsecondary Education Policy and Measurement at
Lauren Friese –Talent Egg
Sunny Lee –Mozilla Open Badges
John Baker –Desire2Learn
David Helfland –Quest University Canada
Steven Mintz –University of Texas
Kane Sarhan –E[nstitute]
and many more
Find out how they are changing higher
education… and why you should care.
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