Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Friday, May 09, 2014

Age bin

Christopher Pyne complains that too few Australian universities are in the Times top 200.  In Shanghai University’s top 500 ranking, a rather better measure, we have as many universities in the top 100 as Germany and more than Japan, Canada, or France – how is that a problem?  And we have a better provision overall, too.  Australia has a university in the top 500 for every 1.2 million citizens, compared to 1.7m in the UK, 2.1m in the US, 4.5m in Korea, 6.3m in Japan, and 48.7m in China.  More elite universities would be better for the elite, certainly, but if funding shifts in that direction the average citizen would lose out.  Which is probably the point of the exercise.

For reference, the full stats, from my comments at the Conversation;

Me
Looking at the THES new unis table, it's worth noting that while Australia doesn't feature in the top ten we've got 14 unis on the list overall, as many as the UK and well ahead of the US (on 8) as well as Spain, France, Germany and Taiwan. Australia has a much more even spread, because we deliberately don't do elite. if we wanted a top ten we could go back to the days when Menzies backed the ANU with special research funding; if we don't do that then we shouldn't snark about a consistent but midlevel standard.
Looking at the THES list of the top 200 unis (http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2013-14/world-ranking) Australia has only 7, equal fifth with Switzerland and Canada. If you weight for both score and population size (yes, yes, rough as guts, but quick and dirty) Australia comes 10th out of 24, three times as bad as Switzerland and well below the UK but just ahead of the USA and well ahead of Canada.
Out of the THES top 400 world universities, 19 are Australian – equal fourth with Canada, behind USA, UK and Germany; per population (can’t do a score weighting, THES doesn’t score 201-400) behind New Zealand, Eire, Sweden, Switz, Denmark, and HK, but just ahead of Norway, Netherlands, and the UK, solidly ahead of Canada and the USA.
If you want 8 out of the top 10, USA; if you want a top-400 (passable) uni for every 1,235,170 people, Australia.
Taking it another way, 44.2% of Australia’s universities are in the top 400, 30.2% of the UK’s (actually, after trimming off some single-faculty minnows that’s 34.5%), and 0.39% of the USA’s.

Gavin Moodie (with whom I have some issues relating to his reviewing a volume of Peanuts comics without reading it, but that's not relevant here)
The TES and QS league tables are not credible and not worth wasting time on. There are several more robust league tables, such as Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s academic ranking of world universities

Me again
Thanks for the tip.
OK, I did the same thing to the Shanghai figures and the outcomes are;
Countries with 10 or over unis in the top 500 - pop'n per scored uni;
Australia 1.2m
Netherlands 1.4m
Canada 1.5m
UK 1.7m
Germany 1.9m
USA 2.1m
Italy 3.1m
France 3.2m
ROK 4.5m
Spain 4.6m
Japan 6.3m
China 48.7m
We have as many unis in the top 100 as Germany and more than Japan, Canada, or France.

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