The Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy, in collaboration with the Institute for Public Knowledge, is pleased to announce the upcoming public forum:

International University Rankings and the Race for World-Class Status

Thursday, February 03, 2011, 5:00pm
Jurow Hall in the Silver Center
100 Washington Square East
New York University
Reception following event

Jürgen Enders
Director, Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS)
University of Twente, the Netherlands

Craig Calhoun
University Professor of Social Science
New York University

Robert H. Frank
Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management
Cornell University

The Rankings Game: who wins, who loses? This question is now one of the most important in global higher education. International rankings of research universities are having an increasing impact on higher education around the globe. National policy makers and institutional leaders feel the need to develop strategic plans to excel in the rankings game. More and more countries, including those in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, strive for membership of some of their universities in the stratum of the most elite universities currently dominated by the U.S. In effect, rankings contribute to the formation of a globally contested field of world-class universities and the further stratification of national higher education landscapes. As countries devote significant resources to this highly expensive race for world-class status, nation-specific goals for access, equity, and quality teaching may suffer.

Dr. Enders will address the role of rankings in the global governance of higher education as well as the benefits and costs of the international academic arms race. He will propose policy directions and strategic actions to strengthen the multiple roles of universities in contemporary societies.

Jürgen Enders is the Director of the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), and research professor of management and governance at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. His research focuses on national and international public policy, globalization and comparative higher education, and globalization and socio-economic development. He is a member of the German Academe of Science and a visiting professor at the School of Management, University of Bath, UK.

Craig Calhoun is University Professor of Social Science, New York University, where he also serves as founding director of the Institute for Public Knowledge. He has served as president of the Social Science Research Council since 1999. His most recent books include Nations Matter: Culture, History and the Cosmopolitan Dream (2007) and, edited with Diana Rhoten, currently in press, Knowledge Matters: The Public Mission of Research Universities.

Robert H. Frank is Professor of Economics and the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management, Cornell University. He co-directs NYU Stern School's Paduano Seminar in Business Ethics. His most recent books include Falling Behind: How Income Inequality Harms the Middle Class (2007) and The Economic Naturalist (2007). His 1995 book, The-Winner-Take-All Society, co-authored with Philip Cook, won several awards. Professor Frank's column, "Economic View" appears monthly in the New York Times.

 Summary of the Event

International Rankings Is the Topic of Steinhardt Institute Forum

International university rankings and the race for world-class status was the topic of a recent forum hosted by The Steinhart Institute for Higher Education Policy.

In his presentation, Professor Jürgen Enders, director of the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente, Netherlands, noted that the quest for higher rankings among universities has not been solely an American phenomenon.  In recent decades universities across the globe have begun competing in a rankings "arms race," devoting more money and resources to improve their standings. Rankings are popular, Enders argued, because of their potential to create order, reduce complexity, and provide useful shortcuts that aid in decision-making about research investment and student choice.

Enders suggested reformulating rankings to emphasize research, teaching, and knowledge transmission within the university, as well as a "groupings" approach that emphasizes similarities among groups of like institutions, rather than insignificant differences.

In their responses, Craig Calhoun, University Professor of Social Science (NYU) and Robert H. Frank, professor of economics and Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management, (Cornell) agreed with Enders' assessment of international rankings and also shed light on different aspects of the phenomenon. Calhoun discussed how students may be drawn to a university that ranks high due to the research accomplishments of its faculty, overlooking the fact that an intensely research-focused faculty may be less effective teachers in the classroom. Calhoun also argued that the rankings system is one that is driven by inequality. According to Calhoun, "The privileging of research is an enemy of teaching ... teaching becomes a less important mission of a university relative to other things."

To download Dr. Enders' presentation, please click here: Rankings_Presentation_-_Enders.ppt