Archive for November 8th, 2011

November 8, 2011

Times Higher Ed World University Rankings

I don’t set all that much store by international rankings of universities – criteria that hold true across multiple education markets are hard to come by, and anyway, what’s being measured when you rank an institution as broad and diverse and irrational as a university? The quality of its teaching? Measured how? The quality of its research? Well, counting citations is some kind of useful metric there, particularly for sciences, but it’s still a pretty blunt instrument… And then the THE says it measures “international outlook” (number of foreigners on the faculty, I guess), but what does that measure?

Then there’s the question of who is compiling and ranking, which gets you into all the usual questions of intentional and unintentional bias – what people measure for, what they take as evidence and what they think that evidence means, and on and on. So I take this with a large pinch of salt. I doubt, for instance, that Oxbridge really deserve the prominence they enjoy on this British table, and I’m suspicious of the relative invisibility of non-Anglophone institutions, especially when you consider that Anglophone scholars are simply in a larger pool for citation purposes than most others.

And yet, and still and all… foolish though I know it is, I can’t help feeling something undefinable about having gone first to a top 5 institution, then a top 20, and now looking for post-docs around 100 and 150…