The effects of university rankings on international academic relations

Professor Simon Marginson gave a keynote speech on global university ranking and performance improvement at the 2016 IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence conference.

The conference, entitled ‘University rankings and international academic relations’, was hosted by the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa.

In his presentation, Professor Marginson investigated the ‘international academic relations’ created by ranking. He argued that global ranking has been powerful in shaping global higher education as a relational environment in a number of ways. In doing so it has seized on certain potentials in the environment but has blocked other possibilities.

He examined the consequences of competition, hierarchy and performance. He outlined the way in which once we recognise that ranking shapes international academic relations in certain ways, we can then evaluate ranking schemes in terms of the effects that they have.

For example, how accurate is the system of valuation? Is there sufficient scope for innovation, for recognition of new value? Does the performance regime drive improvement, in terms of stakeholder goals and public goods?