Tuesday, October 04, 2016

About those predictions

On September 16th I made some predictions about the latest Times Higher Education (THE) world rankings and summit at Berkeley. My record is not perfect but probably a bit better than the professional pollsters who predicted a hung parliament at the last UK elections, a crushing defeat for Brexit and humiliation for Donald Trump in the Republican primaries.

I predicted that Trump would not be invited to give a keynote speech. I was right but it was a pity. He would certainly have added a bit of diversity to a rather bland affair and he does seem to have a talent for helping unpromising beginners into successful careers, something that the current fad for value added ranking is supposed to measure.

I also said that UC Berkeley as the summit host would get into the top ten again after falling to thirteenth last year. This has now become a tradition at THE summits. I suspect though that even THE will find it hard to get King's College London, the 2017 world summit host, into the top ten. Maybe they will have to settle for top twenty.

The prediction that adding books to the indicator mix would help British universities seems to have been fulfilled. Oxford was number one for the first time. I was also right about the renewed rise of Asia, some of it anyway.  The Korean favourites, Seoul National University, POSTECH, KAIST, Sungkyunkwan University, Korea University, have all risen significantly this year.

The decline of US public universities blamed on lack of funding? Yes, although I never thought Robert Reich would say that public higher education is dying.

Danger of Brexit and immigration controls for UK universities? I did not see anything specific but I did not look very hard and probably everybody thinks it's self evident.

I have to confess that I have not counted the number of times that the words prestige and prestigious were used at the summit or in the Christopher Priest novel. In the latter it is a contraction of prestidigitation and refers to the effect or the third segment of a stage illusion following the setup and the performance, the moment when the rabbit is pulled out of the hat or Anglia Ruskin revealed to have a greater world research impact than Cambridge or Imperial.

Phil Baty gave a masterclass and so did did Duncan Ross. I am pretty certain that no feminists complained about this outrageous sexism so I am prepared to admit that I was wrong there.

Incidentally, according to wikipedia a master class is "a class given to students of a particular discipline by an expert of that discipline -- usually music, but also painting, drama, any of the arts, or on any other occasion where skills are being developed."

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