GLOBAL UNIVERSITY RANKING SYSTEMS (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Social Issues)

News-CRUX-10     4th March 2024        
Samadhaan

Context: Since the first appearance of global university ranking systems around two decades ago, rankings have come to dominate the attention in higher education ecosystems around the world.

Global University Ranking Systems

  • About: It began around one and a half decades ago to discern characteristics of superior higher education institutions.
  • Purpose: Ranking systems aim to order higher education institutes based on various criteria including teaching, research, reputation, industry-focused research, and collaborative efforts.
  • Three major global university ranking systems: the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), the (QSWUR) and the (THEWUR).
  • Complexity of Ranking Criteria: The performance of institutes is evaluated on complex, multifaceted activities which are translated into composite indicators for ranking purposes.
  • Elizabeth Gadd's Critique (2021): Elizabeth Gadd, a research officer at Loughborough University, criticized university ranking systems, likening the pursuit of higher rankings to the flawed reliance on GDP as the sole indicator of a country's prosperity.
  • Critique of Ranking Systems: These systems face criticism similar to GDP as a sole measure of prosperity, with concerns about oversimplification and overlooking crucial aspects like environmental impact and inequality.
  • Influence of Ranking Factors: Factors like citations and reputation heavily influence research excellence scores, leading to skewed representations and the dominance of certain institutions.
  • Impact of Arbitrary Measures: Arbitrary measures like citations can dramatically alter university rankings and may even lead to manipulation, as observed in cases such as Saveetha Dental College.
  • Concerns of Bias and Manipulation: Instances of bias and manipulation have been observed in ranking systems, including favoritism towards universities hosting ranking summits and adjustments in citation counting methods.
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