Love them or hate them: The impact of university rankings on higher education globally

May 15, 2017

University rankings shape resource allocation decisions, hiring, student selection, internationalization practices, programmatic developments and public relations. Rankings have even raised the ire of Noble Prize winners. Most university leaders recognize the limitations of them, but they are in Catch 22 situation. To ignore rankings is to become invisible and in a competitive funding context this seems dangerous, but to play the game is to ignore extensive academic research that points to the methodological and ethical flaws with rankings.

Despite the hundreds of studies that have problematized the rankings’ rationale, rankings continue to increase in influence throughout most of the world. For many, rankings are perceived as ‘natural’ tools that allow individuals and groups to sort through an increasingly complex, higher education sector. For others, rankings raise questions about equity, and who decides what knowledge is worthy of being considered world class.

Can rankings help us decide if a university is excellent or not? Are there alternatives to rankings? The panelists will discuss these important questions.

Nathan Hall Associate Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University; Founder, Shit Academics Say @AcademicsSay

Ellen Hazelkorn Director, Higher Education Policy Research Unit, Dublin Institute of Technology 

Mayumi Ishikawa Professor, Center for Global Initiatives, Osaka University  

Light refreshments will be served.