25
Jun
11

Global university rankings

Here are an interesting  set of thoughts, with thanks to Dr Margit T for mentioning this paper to me.

Don’t Look to the Ivy League – Howard Hotson. London Review of Books 33(10): 20-22

The paper begins with the statement that

“At the heart of the Browne Report and the government’s higher education policy is a simple notion allegedly grounded in economics: that the introduction of market forces into the higher education sector will simultaneously drive up standards and drive down prices.”

It then goes on to discuss the basis on which university standards are usually discussed: the world university rankings, in which the US typically dominates over half the top 20 positions. However, Hotson unpicks these data, calibrating for population, GDP and investment in tertiary education. He thus comes to the following proposition:

“The UK has somehow managed to maintain top-ranked universities for only about a fifth of the US price”

Thus, he concludes,- “The natural interpretation of the World University Rankings flies in the face of the key assumption underpinning current British government policy … In terms of value for money, the British system is far better, and probably the best in the world. Willetts should follow the example of the health secretary, take advantage of a ‘natural break in the legislative process’, and go back to the drawing board.”

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About this blog

This blog has been set up to chart the activities and research findings of two projects led by Anne Haour, an archaeologist from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

The first project, called Crossroads, brings together a team of archaeologists, historians and anthropologists studying the Niger Valley where it borders Niger and Bénin (West Africa). We are hoping to shed more light on the people that inhabited the area in the past 1500 years and to understand how population movements and craft techniques shaped the area's past.

The second project, called Cowries, examines the money cowrie, a shell which served as currency, ritual object and ornament across the world for millennia, and in medieval times most especially in the Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. We hope to understand how this shell was sourced and used in those two areas.

These investigations are funded by the European Research Council as part of the Starting Independent Researcher Programme (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7) and by the Leverhulme Trust as a Research Project Grant. The opinions posted here are however Anne Haour's own!

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