University Rankings and Diversity

Speaking of Concordia University, it is officially taking position in favour of international principles for university rankings instead of those set out by a magazine.
Full Press Release

Concordia uses two of the items in the list of Purposes and Goals of Rankings for the Berlin Principles to explain its decision not to participate in the magazine ranking.

3. Recognize the diversity of institutions and take the different missions and goals of institutions into account. Quality measures for research-oriented institutions, for example, are quite different from those that are appropriate for institutions that provide broad access to underserved communities. Institutions that are being ranked and the experts that inform the ranking process should be consulted often.

5. Specify the linguistic, cultural, economic, and historical contexts of the educational systems being ranked. International rankings in particular should be aware of possible biases and be precise about their objective. Not all nations or systems share the same values and beliefs about what constitutes “quality” in tertiary institutions, and ranking systems should not be devised to force such comparisons.

Through these items, an image of institutional diversity seems to emerge. Concordia, instead of focusing on prestige or pseudo-objective measures of student satisfaction, proposes an educational philosophy with an emphasis on diversity and flexibility. Perhaps because of this philosophy, Concordia is an ideal context for me to teach and learn. Not that it necessarily deserves the highest ranking in surveys. But that it represents very precisely the type of place where people care about actual knowledge more than about public recognition. Public recognition can help some academic institutions maintain an aura of educational excellence but actual learning occurs in diverse contexts.


Author: enkerli

French-speaking ethnographer, homeroaster, anthropologist, musician, coffee enthusiast.

10 thoughts on “University Rankings and Diversity”

  1. Pingback: Disparate
  2. Jay,

    Thanks a lot!
    Though I would tend to disagree with many dimensions of the WM approach, I certainly welcome the effort to openly discuss important issues about higher education. (And the results do sound much more appropriate than those of most other ranking systems.)
    Haven’t listened to the actual podcast yet but it seems like this WM system might go well with some issues discussed on Radio Open Source’s show on “What Should Colleges Teach?

  3. [BTW, some people (living in the McGhetto, most likely) are likely to assume that Concordia’s decision was just motivated by jealousy or some such. But my experience in seven North American institutions of higher education (from Research I institutions to a State College) leads me to rally with Concordia’s stance, regardless of my status there.]

  4. Exactly. But they’re not the only ones. Some schools (with pretentions to be top-notch academic institutions) in the U.S. are even more deeply entrenched in that educational philosophy of favouring prestige over knowledge.

    Ah, well…

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