By Ruth A. Pagell*
(22 October 2016) About 100 years ago, Chulalongkorn was designated the Flagship university of Thailand.
Japan designated its seven imperial universities, one science university and three private universities as flagships. New initiatives have been introduced in the 21st century to strengthen selected universities and centers of excellence (Yonezawa, 2015. pg 177). Today Japan has an exclusive group of 11 research universities, RU11.
China has nine “flagship” universities (C9), referred to as the Chinese Ivy league. It is also strengthening about 100 institutions and key disciplinary areas through Project 2011 and funding 39 universities to reach world-class status through Project 985 (China Education Center)
Korea started building up its universities and research units with BK21, followed by BK21 II, which provided fellowship funding to graduate students and professors in research groups at top Korean universities. Currently, Korea is up to BK21 Plus.
Over the past two years, Ruth’s Rankings has focused on bibliometric indicators to track the rise of Asian universities across a variety of global ranking. Ruth’s Rankings 20 introduced Flagships as a complementary model, moving the focus from global bibliometric outputs to regional and national relevance. We also discussed national systems rather than individual institutions.
Ruth’s Rankings 21 introduces non-bibliometric indicators from the Flagship model at a national level. Does the model fit the Asian economic and social environment?
INTRODUCING ECONOMIC INDICATORS
What do Australia, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore have in common? What about Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam? (Answers in accompanying tables)
Using economic indicators for rankings are like using bibliometrics. Different agencies collate data from a limited number of sources; they present the data using different definitions, currencies and time periods and get different results. Our comparisons include the US and UK as world benchmarks, all the Asian / Pacific countries that appear in either the U21 or QS national system rankings and South Africa and Brazil as other developing economies. I faced two challenges for consistent data: some sources incorporate Hong Kong with China and international sources affiliated with the UN do not include Taiwan.
Table 21.1 shows the national system rankings, population ranking and selected measures of national economies. I like economic indicators and I do not expect Access@LibraryLearningSpace readers to know the difference between GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in current $US from GNI (Gross National Income) per capita PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) in international dollars. You do need to know which indicator is used to measure the size of a country’s economy and the official source of the data. Eight of the U21 top 10 nations were tops in all economic indicators. Table 21.1 A (Appendix 21 A) includes all our countries’ data, definitions, sources and examples of income differentials.
Other measures put the strength of a country’s higher education performance in context using GERD (Gross Domestic Expenditures on Research & Development), Reuters’ innovation rankings, and data on tertiary education. In Appendix 21 A, Table 21.2 A. shows the national system rankings, GERD rankings and Reuters number of innovative institutions by county. Neither the expenditures for GERD nor its percent compared to GDP show a consistent pattern. Japan and Korea score higher on the GERD and innovation metrics than their system rankings while Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan are consistently near the bottom.
A third factor is tertiary education. Figure 21.1 illustrates the rise of the ratio of the population engaged in tertiary education for selected countries, especially showing the effect of China’s national policy initiatives. Data on both expenditures and gross enrollment ratios are in Table 21. 3. B in Appendix 21 B. The percent of GDP spent on higher education is not an indicator of a country’s nation system ranking.
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL INDICATORS
Corruption in higher education is a worldwide concern. UNESCO, in conjunction with IIEP (International Institute for Economic Planning) and CHEA/CIQG (Council for Higher Education Accreditation International Quality Group) (2016) published an advisory statement on Combatting corruption and enhancing integrity.
Corruption in higher education appears in many forms:
1: Regulation of Systems – political interference in quality assurance
2: Teaching Role – recruiting, promoting based on bribes
3: Student Admissions and Recruitment – presenting falsified transcripts
4: Student assessment – impersonation of candidates
5. Credentials and qualifications – political pressure to award degrees to public figures
6 Research theses and publications – fabrication of data or results
7. Public awareness – suppression of inconvenient news
UNESCO’s ETICO (Ethics and Corruption in Education) resources platform tracks examples of corruption in higher education that appears in the press., including examples from India, Malaysia , China, Australia, Thailand and Hong Kong. Korea’s, Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission conduct an annual corruption survey of its universities, with the 2015 score being just under a six out of 10 with 10 being no corruption. Corruption is not limited to developing countries, with recent examples in Canada (Broitman, 2016) and Italy.
Reporters without Borders (RSF) measures Freedom of the Press. Seven of the top countries are European, including all Scandinavian countries in addition to Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland, New Zealand Costa Rico and Jamaica. Australia makes the top 25. Six of our regional countries were in the top 100. The Cato Institute publishes the Human Freedom Index, with an overall ranking, ranking for Economic and Personal Freedom and rankings for 72 individual indications, divided into 12 categories, including movement of women. The most recent dataset is for 2013 and available for download . Four regional countries made this top 25 while only four were in the bottom 52.
Table 21.4 compares freedom and corruption rankings with systems rankings. The full list of countries and the challenges facing developing economies and sources for background information and data on the challenges are in Appendix 21, C. Figure 21.2 illustrates the differences among GDP, GERD and press freedom rankings.
The Confucian model is described by Marginson (2011). The model is based on a tradition of respect for higher education and scholarship.
- Strong nation-state shaping of structures, funding and priorities
- Tendency to universal tertiary participation partly financed by growing levels of household funding of tuition, sustained by a private duty, grounded in Confucian values, to invest in education.
- “One chance” national examinations that mediate social competition and university hierarchy and focus family commitments to education
- Accelerated public investment in research and “world-class” universities
- Limits social equity in participation
- State interference in executive autonomy
- Limits academic creativity
Marginson covers all the countries in East and South Asia and includes metrics such as GDP and GNI, internet use and public education spending. He concludes by saying that higher education is rising in the “systems most closely affected by Confucian values: Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Singapore (Marginson, 2011, pg 607).
The Emerging Global Model or EGM was suggested about ten years ago, a combination of the Flagship approach but with global rather than regional emphasis (Mohman, 2006, Rhoads, 2011)
The challenges for rising Asian universities is not what a model is called but how the universities find the right ingredients to balance the obsession with rankings and the need for quality assurance with massification and national relevance. For example, the Chinese government plays a major role in rapidly bringing its leading universities up to world class status, as seen in the August ARWU 2016 rankings.
As Hawkins (2016) points out “The research model historically developed in the U.S. and Europe may not be the most appropriate for the 21st century and for developing innovative universities and college and may in fact drive out such other critical missions of the university as teaching and learning” (pg. 124)
Broitman, Mel. (September 22, 2016). Corruption in higher ed: Canada in the crosshairs. Inside Higher Education
Daniel J. (2016) Advisory statement for effective international practice: Combatting corruption and enhancing integrity,.. UNESCO, Washington D.C.
Douglass, J. A., ed (2016). The New Flagship University: Changing the paradigm from global rankings to national relevancy. Basingstoke UK: Palgrave MacMillan.
Hawkins, John N. (2016) The predicament of the quest for WCU status and seeking an Asian Flagship University, Chapter 5 in Douglass. Pgs. 115-138.
Ka Ho Mok and Jin Jiang (19 August 2016) Higher education widens the gap between rich and poor. University World News.
Marginson, Simon (2011). Higher education in East Asia and Singapore: rise of the Confucian Model. Higher Education 61 (5); pgs. 587-611.
Mohrman, K., Ma, W. & Baker, D. (2008). The research university in transition: The emerging global model. Higher Education Policy, 21(1).
National Science Foundation (2016). Research & Development national trends and international comparison, Table 4.4 in National Science Board Science & Engineering Indicators 2016
Rhoads, R.A. (2011). The U.S. research university as a global model: Some fundamental problems to consider. Interactions, UCLA’s Journal of Education and Information, 7(2).
RSF- Reporters without Borders. World Press Freedom Index 2016.
Vasquez, I. and Porcnik, T. (2016). The Human Freedom Index: A global measurement of personal, civil and economic freedom Cato Institute,
UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2014). Higher education in Asia: Expanding out, expanding up: The rise of graduate education and university research .UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
Yonezawa, A. & Shimmi, Y. (2015). Transformation of university governance through internationalization challenges for top universities and government policies in Japan. Higher Education, 70(2) 173-186.
See Appendix D for a complete list of annotated resources.
A list of Ruth’s Rankings and News Updates is here.
*Ruth A. Pagell is currently an adjunct faculty [teaching] in the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Hawaii. Before joining UH, she was the founding librarian of the Li Ka Shing Library at Singapore Management University. She has written and spoken extensively on various aspects of librarianship, including contributing articles to ACCESS – https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3238-9674.