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On the absurdity of University rankings: Alex Uni 16, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Opinion.
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It is nice to say that I got my undergraduate degree from one of the top three broad curriculum Universities in the UK and that my Phd will be awarded from a University of similar repute. Yet I confess that I’ve never taken University rankings too seriously.

Durham University, for example, recently reached the heady heights of 3rd in the UK for broad curriculum Universities by one measure but was a lowly 30-something in another newspaper’s rankings. Why the disparity? Because the latter heavily weighted student satisfaction ratings in the make-up of their survey.

The NYT, however, has an article highlighting the most egregious league table absurdity yet.

Alexandria University in Egypt was placed 147th in the recent prestigious Times Higher Education league table. This placed it higher than, for example, Georgetown University in Washington D.C., making Alex Uni the only Arab University in the top 200.

(Infinitely) worse still was the fact that it was, according to one criteria, 4th in the world in terms of the ‘weighted impact of a University’s research’. This placed them higher than Harvard and Stanford Universities and is the sole source of their relatively high placing overall.

Digging deeper the NYT discovered that this anomaly stemmed from one Egyptian Professor who published 320 of his own articles in a scientific journal that he edits. He is currently involved in a court case over the “apparent misuse of editorial privileges”. I wonder why.

Another University rankings system noted that Alexandria University was not even the best University in the (small) city.







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