Are university rankings reshaping higher education?

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29th March 2011

With universities across the globe vying for the best students, both in their own countries and through international recruitment, where an institution is placed in world rankings has become an increasingly important factor shaping quality and reputation.

There are now 10 different global rankings while national rankings exist in over 50 countries. While their popularity, visibility and influence varies, so also does what they measure and how reliable they are. Making choices based on rankings can lead to both positive and perverse outcomes – for individuals, institutions and countries.

Now, a new book offers the first comprehensive study of the impact and influence of rankings on higher education from a global perspective.

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Professor Ellen Hazelkorn in the audience at the launch of her book, “Rankings and the Reshaping of higher Education: the Battle for World-class Excellence”

The book is entitled “Rankings and the Reshaping of higher Education: the Battle for World-class Excellence”, and is published by Palgrave Macmillan. The author is Professor Ellen Hazelkorn, Director of Research and Enterprise at Dublin Institute of Technology. She is a consultant to the OECD programme on institutional Management of Higher Education, and also heads up the Higher Education Policy Research Unit at DIT.

In her book, Hazelkorn asks a number of very pertinent questions, such as how rankings are influencing not only students making a choice of institution but how they influence key decision-makers and policymakers. Speaking in advance of the launch today, Professor Hazelkorn said “Governments, employers, philanthropists and students all use rankings to inform their decisions about resource allocation, employment of graduates, investment opportunities and programme choices. We need to ask - and I have tried to do this in my book - are rankings re-shaping higher education and if so, are they measuring the right things?“

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Dr. Jamil Salmi, higher education policy advisor to the World Bank, speaking at the book launch

This timely study will play an important part in providing the answer, and in informing the higher education debate in Ireland and elsewhere. The book was launched in Dublin Institute of Technology by Dr. Jamil Salmi, higher education policy advisor to the World Bank. Before formally launching the book, Dr. Salmi gave a lecture to an invited audience on the topic of “Higher Education in the 21st Century: the Accountability Challenge”.

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