Wry & Dry

Yet another global ranking survey

Generation Z is the generational cohort following the Millennials.  Demographers typically use birth years from mid-1990s to mid 2000s to define Gen Z.  Because of its widespread use of the internet, this generation is also known as the iGeneration.  

Because of its egoism (i.e. focus on self) W&D calls them Generation Me.  Gen Me. It's all about... Me!  

At its worst, it's about Me The Victim.  Someone else is to blame for my predicament.

A little less disturbing is Gen Me's short-term view of everything.  Everything has to be packaged easily for short-term entertainment, reading or understanding.

And hence a focus on things being given a star rating or being ranked.  It saves thinking effort and thinking time.

So, Gen Me only goes to movies that have a star rating greater than, say, three-and-a-half stars out of five.  (Which really is ranking of seven out of ten.  But what the heck, the world has adopted five stars as the acme.)

And like the global health rankings about which W&D wrote three weeks ago (where health expenditure per capita was farcically used as a measure of a successful health system*), rankings depend on the factors assessed and the weight ascribed to each.

And so, again, it falls to W&D to draw to readers' attention another failed 'global ranking' exercise. 

This time of universities.


Much media fuss was made this week when six Australian universities made it to the top 100 global ranking:  Melbourne (40th); Queensland (55th); ANU (77th); Monash (79th); Sydney (82nd) and Western Australia (96th).

The ranking was generated in the 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).  ARWU (also called the Shanghai ranking) is complied by ShanghaiRanking Consultancy, and is seen as one of three respected global ranking measures (alongside QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education World University Rankings).

The trouble is that ARWU focusses on raw university research power in science, maths and medicine. And with a focus on post-graduate research.  There is little for the humanities or quality of teaching.

For most students who wish to undertake under-graduate degrees the ARWU rankings perhaps are not the right source of decision making.

But for the university wanting more funds, the ranking will be loudly shouted.  And more investment made in the factors that will assist in climbing the rankings.

It may not matter that those factors may be irrelevant to most university students.  

But what the heck.  It's a ranking that saves a Gen Me from undertaking some disciplined research as to what really might suit them.

By the way, below are rankings of universities by other assessors.

University table

*  The US has, by far, the world's highest spending on health per capita.  But its health system, for most of the population, fails to meet the health standards of a first world country: roughly equal access regardless of patient income; timely access; quality of outcomes and efficacious use of resources.