via CMPO Viewpoint
via CMPO Viewpoint
Check out another university ranking system – this is for the USA only.
Below are the Washington Monthly‘s 2009 national university college rankings. We rate schools based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). For an explanation of each category, click here. For more information about the overall goals of the rankings, click here. To learn more about our methodology, click here.
UC Berkeley is number one on this system, and Harvard (usually number 1 on other systems) falls to 11th place. As ever, this shows the critical importance of the categories and weightings used in any ranking system. UCSD, UCLA, Stanford and Texas A&M make up places 2, 3, 4 & 5, respectively.
Full rankings here.
Roll-on the QS and THE rankings: it will be very interesting to see the strength of correlation between these two ranking systems.
There’s been a lot of comment (and a lot of skepticism) on this blog about the ‘meaning’ of university rankings. Issues regarding reliability and validity (e.g. predictive, construct, face, internal validity) of measurement, and a lack of attention to basic measurement theory, have been particularly discussed.
These rankings should not be taken be taken as some absolute measure of quality (however defined). As noted here previously, ‘ the nature of the variables measured and the weightings applied to them to generate the overall composite ranking makes a huge difference to the outcomes generated’.
But, these caveats aside, here is a simple prediction based on the Employment Control Framework. This demands ‘A minimum 6% reduction in the number of overall core staff … will be required across the HE sector by end of 2010, as compared with the numbers in place at 31 December 2008.’
The QS methodology (2009) gave a 20% weighting to the student faculty ratio and a further 5% based onthe proportion of international faculty. The loss of academic staff at all levels is palpable in my own institution; I suspect the situation is no different in the other Irish universities. Reductions in staffing, without corresponding reductions in student numbers, inevitably lead an increase in the staff-student ratio. So, assuming nothing else changes, these reductions in staffing will result in a lower placement of our universities in international ranking systems that place a weight on staff:student ratios.
(As an aside, has no-one in Government wondered to themselves how the universities will deliver the Innovation Agenda, when staff numbers are dramatically and arbitrarily cut? Want to know why there is no Irish Google? It’s because there is no Irish Stanford! See also this post on science funding and the lack of an Irish Nokia.)
Understanding the QS Methodology
Nunzio Quacquarelli, Research Director for the QS World University Rankings™, gives the reasoning behind the methodology and answers frequently asked questions.
Comparing ranking systems
Martin Ince, executive member of the QS World University Rankings Advisory Board looks at the differences between the most influential university ranking systems in the world.
- QS teams up with Nouvel Observateur for 2010 QS World University Rankings™
Some (apparently) counter-intuitive data: Hard choices in UK Public Policy: Fees harm access – a case of pub economics » Election experts
It appears from UK data, that the introduction of fees for third-level, far from harming access to third-level education, actually has had no such effect. What are the chances of data and evidence of this type permeating public discussion of the fees issue in our hugely-underfunded third-level education system? Ideological commitments are one thing: the implications of data and evidence for educational policy are quite another.
Blog post reproduced in full:
No matter who forms the new government in May 2010, the new set of ministers will have to tackle the worst deficit in UK public finance for decades. The 2010 to 2015 period will inevitably require policy-makers and citizens to make some hard choices – either raising taxes or pruning spending on previously highly valued public services.
In the third of our ‘Hard Choices’ series, Nicholas Barr looks at the arguments against free higher education.
What I call ‘pub economics’ relates to something that is obviously right and everybody knows it’s right – but it’s wrong. The argument that ‘free’ higher education widens participation is just such a case. The issue is contentious, so the government has set up a review (the Browne Review) to report after the election. Till then, politicians will duck most questions on fees and loans, on the grounds that it would be wrong to pre-empt the review’s report.
What’s wrong with Taxpayer finance?
Taxpayer support for higher education should remain a permanent part of the landscape, but not on its own.
- Tax finance does not widen participation. Between 1960 and 1998, when there were no tuition fees, access hardly improved.
- Taxpayer finance can harm access by leading to a shortage of places. Even without the economic crisis, universities will lose out to the NHS, nursery education and school education. And if places are short, it is predictable who gets left out.
- The people who go to university continue to be mainly from better off backgrounds. Why should the taxes of the truck driver pay for the degree of the old Etonian?
What are the real determinants of participation?
To anyone who is serious about the evidence, one message stands out – it’s school attainment, stupid. As a researcher into early child development tragically put it, ‘By the time they are eighteen, all the damage has been done’. In 2002 (when students from poor backgrounds paid no fees), 81 per cent of children from professional backgrounds went to university; the comparable figure for children from manual backgrounds was 15 per cent (according to the UK Education and Skills Committee in 2002) – a shameful record. Yet restricting the sample to young people with good A levels, the figure was roughly 90 per cent for both groups.
The Figure makes this very clear. The top pair of bars show that about 95 per cent of people with the best A levels went to university, with virtually no difference in participation between people from the top 3 socioeconomic groups (the lighter shading) and the bottom 3 (the darker shading). For people with slightly less good A levels, the figure was 90 per cent. The main driver of participation is a person’s prior attainment.
What has happened since fees were introduced?
A study by the Higher Education Funding Council for England on the effects of the introduction of fees offers powerful results that are worth quoting extensively:
‘ [T]here is no indication from the national-level trends that changes to HE tuition fees or student support arrangements have been associated with material reductions in the overall HE participation rate’ (para. 23).
‘Substantial, sustained and materially significant participation increases for the most disadvantaged areas across the 04:05 to 09:10 cohorts are found regardless of whether educational, occupational or income disadvantage is considered. Typically, young people from the 09:10 cohort living in the most disadvantaged areas are around +30 per cent more likely to enter higher education than they were five years previously (04:05 cohort), and around +50 per cent more likely to enter higher education than 15 years previously (94:95 cohort)’ (para. 28, emphasis added).
‘Trends in social statistics – such as HE participation rates – that are associated with deeply rooted differences in advantage do not usually show rapid change. A set of robustness and credibility checks give confidence that the analysis in this report is faithfully describing HE participation trends. In particular, the unusually rapid increases in HE participation recorded since the mid-2000s for young people living in disadvantaged areas are supported by changes in the GCSE attainment of the matching cohorts of young people ….’ (para. 31, emphasis added).
These arguments are not just an exercise in academic logic chopping. The argument that fees harm access makes the wrong diagnosis and therefore leads to the wrong prescription. The policy spends money on ‘free’ higher education instead of improving earlier education, providing more and better information, and raising aspirations, and thus spends money on a policy that does not work.
Update: today’s Irish Times carries a story that there are 26,000 students in fee-paying second-level schools paying at least €6000 per annum. What does this say for capacity to pay fees at third-level?