When the Times Higher Education Rankings Fail The Fall-Down-Laughing Test

Alex Usher, odd time signatures, Feb 06, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I'm sympathetic with the "fall down laughing test" and I share the author's scepticism about the Times Higher Education (THE) rankings. But at a certain point the argument stretches the point too far. Alex usher suggests that the THE's assertion that "the THE is saying that places like the University of Ireland, Maynooth, the University of Tasmania, and King Abdulaziz University are more international than Harvard, Yale, and Stanford" is laugably silly. But really? When I think of Harvard, Yale and Stanford, I don't think of diversity and inclusiveness, I think of the privilege of a monocultural elite. The world's most diverse cities are located in Europe and Asia, not in New England. So why is it so absurd to think that places other than these U.S. universities are more diverse? It's not silly, and sometimes hearing these universities claim to be diverse strikes me as absurd. It's like they're saying, "We have both kinds of music, country and western."

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