Nice article Paul! Regarding the issue of preselecting a small percentage of all universities for ARWU and the other rankings, I found a recently published paper by Million+ (British university think tank) quite interesting: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=417498&c=1
The paper argues that academic “excellence”-strategies may be a factor in limiting social mobility in GB. Side-by-side of the very rich and the very poor was something that struck me as particularly un-European when following news coverage of the social unrest in London and other cities a couple of weeks back. What role could academic education play in levelling or reinforcing these differences? Advocates of excellence-strategies will argue that the scholarship system ensures that the best will always be given a chance to do research, but of course social selection starts much earlier. To end on a positive note, QS has included an indication of tuition fees in their 2011/12 rankings, which provide a glimpse of how the nations represented finance their academic system. Perhaps we could think about a methodology factoring social in/exclusion into the evaluation category of “societal impact” of research?
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