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SKAPE: Research


Ranking and the Structuration of a Transnational Field of Higher Education

Ranking and the Structuration of a Transnational Field of Higher Education
Speaker: Niilo Kauppi # University of Jyvaskyla and CNRS
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Date and Time
19th Jan 2016 14:00 - 19th Jan 2016 15:30
Chrystal Macmillan Building, 6th Floor Staff Room


I will explore the transnational governance of higher education (HE) by focusing on the production of ranking lists of universities and more broadly higher education institutions (HEI). Since the creation of the so-called Shanghai list of world universities in 2003, an intensification of competition in HE has occurred. Today competition does not take place only between scholars, departments, universities, or even countries, but has moved to a meta level, to a global competition between the providers of knowledge and data that frame HE (past and future) developments. Specialized research institutions like the German Center for Higher Education (CHE) and international organizations like the OECD as producers of data have become central in HE governance as institutions of HE have become global governable objects.

While everyone agrees on their shortcomings, there is clear evidence that for the stakeholders and public opinion ranking lists are part of the reality of higher education. They are widely used and legitimized for setting strategic goals, and thus creating forms of ontological dependence that bind the actors involved in HE to certain conceptions of what is desirable and valued. In ways that need to be empirically documented they help create through (variable) positive feedback the reality they describe, framing the globe as a unified playing field for HEIs.