Sometimes it is easy to focus on the minutiae of day to day life as an academic without thinking of the broader picture. I like to visit the University World News website just to get a sense of what’s happening at universities globally. I came across a fascinating article by Kevin Downing about the changes in university funding globally. You can read the whole article here.
Downing argues that exactly at the time when universities in the West are dramatically cutting their state funding, institutions in Asia (especially China, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan) are moving in the opposite direction. The efforts of these countries is paying off as more of their universities move into the world’s top 200 list published by Quacquerelli Symonds.
This means that Asian universities are in a better position to attract the world’ s best academics to teach and research, and the world’s best students to learn there.
Of course, the ranking system itself causes controversy, as does the internal UK ranking of universities here. But I agree with Downing when he argues that some sort of ranking system, however flawed, is necessary in order for us to judge Higher Education systems using ‘real world’ values.
And the findings of this ranking system is that the traditional universities of the West who have dominated the tables for years should be worried and look to Asia as a model of how to improve their own standing. Many academics don’t like the idea of competition on this scale, but it seems to be a fact of university life across the globe, so surely it’s better to be informed about these changes than to bury our heads in the sand?