An interesting take on global university rankings and its effect on universities
May 21, 2009
Global College Rankings Can Have Positive Effects on Campuses, Report Says
Systems for ranking colleges and universities are becoming more common worldwide, and are exerting an ever-more-powerful influence on how those institutions operate, according to a report issued today by the Institute for Higher Education Policy that reviews four countries in particular: Australia, Canada, Germany, and Japan.
The 28-page report, “Impact of College Rankings on Institutional Decision Making: Four Country Case Studies,” is the latest in a series issued by the institute, a Washington-based research group. The report says more than 40 countries have rankings systems, which it describes as “entrenched,” and several other rankings attempt to evaluate colleges and universities across international borders.
The report, which is based on interviews with people at more than 20 higher-education institutions in the four countries, seeks to determine what role rankings play on their campuses and to suggest lessons for American institutions. While criticizing the impact of rankings in ways that will be familiar to American readers — skewing priorities, warping hiring decisions, hurting disadvantaged students, and so forth — the interview subjects say that rankings can have positive effects.
Among them are better decision making based on data, better teaching and learning, prompt recognition and easy copying of model programs, and increased collaboration, not just competition, among peer institutions.
The research behind the report was financed by the Lumina Foundation for Education, which is making such work a priority and whose president, Jamie P. Merisotis, is a former president of the institute. —Andrew Mytelka