Thursday, March 10, 2011

A useful table and a few observations

Wikipedia has an interesting article on academic rankings. We could (and probably should) spend a lot of time going over this, but here are a few points to get things started:

1. This list seems to suggest that the USA has the best university system by a good margin. This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to improve it, but this does make a case for being careful about making radical changes. When you're number one, unintended consequences can be a bitch;

2. As Joseph noted, California contains one of the two major clusters of major universities. Most Californians would like to keep it that way. I'm not so sure about most of Sacramento.

3. It's a good idea to go through this list periodically while reading Edward Glaeser (since it's obvious his editors didn't).


  1. Like any ranking system, it has its weaknesses and limitations. But it is a pretty good compromise list as it comes out of China (so hopefully it has a layer of objectivity).

    The subject specific rankings are also pretty interesting. It is pretty clear that the crisis in Higher education is currently on the cost side and not the quality side.

  2. I'm inclined to give these rankings a plus or minus 5. Small differences don't tell us much but the bigger ones are worth looking at.

  3. Exactly. The general trends are pretty clear as are the locations of the strong geographic regions. It is also worth noting how few regions of the United States don't have a strong University. Even very red states like Texas and Utah are well represented.