Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

I have long maintained that ranking reflect more the priorities of those issuing the ranking than those being ranked. Rankings are, in other words, a tool for lobbyists. Sometimes this leads to undesirable results. This, in my view, is a case in point. Here's Alex Usher summarizing the thinking:

"Me: what are you going to do with the extra money?"
Them: "Invest it in research"
Me: "Why?"
Them: "To rise in the Rankings."
Me: "Why is that important?"
Them: "Helps attract more international students"
Me: "And why does that matter?"
Them: "More money!"
Me: "And what will you do with…
Them: "Research!"
It was a perfect circle.  An academic Ouroboros.

It reads like a Ponzi scheme to me. And while Usher agrees we should not rush out and adopt the Australian model, he does suggest Canadian institutions could learn from it. But my take is that the lesson essentially involves subsuming public institutions to the interests of those creating the rankings. And by inserting 'making money' as a primary institutional objective, we subvert the public good these institutions are supposed to provide.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2023 05:20 a.m.

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