Monday, December 11, 2006

The #17 university in the world?

Not that I like to criticize my own university, in general, but...

As I was updating my blogger profile I decided to include a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Jiao Tong university rankings of global institutions. The top 20 include such recognized centers of learning as Harvard (1), Cambridge [UK] (2), Stanford (3), UC-Berkeley (4!), and... the University of Wisconsin at Madison (16) and the University of Washington (17)??? Umm, are we talking about the same UW here? Apparently it is ahead of Michigan, NYU and Northwestern.

This becomes somewhat more logical when you see that the rankings are basically based on the volume of publishing by faculty and prizes won. By sheer size, UW has an advantage there, being a larger-sized institution than most, and some of the faculty are pretty good. However, the rankings have almost nothing to do with the student experience. Admittedly, universities aren't made just for students; but students play a vital role in them. And from my young perspective, there is no way the University of Washington is #17 in the world...

An interesting note about the survey is that pretty much all the top schools are American. This, and the way the rankings are made, is just another citation for the fact that American schools are much better at facilitating research than European ones.

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