Critical Knowledge Forum: Dr. Jelena Brankovic
University Rankings: What are they, where do they come from, and why do people care about them?
Rankings of universities have existed for more than a century, yet only in recent decades have they started to attract more attention, even to the point of being widely considered ubiquitous. At least in part, this trend could be accounted for by the developments beyond the university sector. The proliferation of evaluative practices, diffusion of practices of quantification, marketization, and globalization in the broadest sense, are some of the often-recognized drivers of the trend. At the same time, among the many evaluation devices, rankings seem to attract the most attention—that of policymakers, university administration, staff, and students, all of whom are expected to be concerned with issues such as academic quality and reputation, as well as the general state of the academic enterprise. It is, therefore, little surprising that rankings are also subjected to a great deal of criticism, which often has to do with the adverse effects they are believed to have on academic organizations and academic work. Yet despite the controversy which clouds them, and not least the persistent and often relentless challenge to their legitimacy, the idea that rankings are “here to stay” seems to have sunk in with scholars, decision-makers, and practitioners alike.
Why is this so? What is it about the practice of producing performance-based hierarchies that makes it an important part of the global higher education landscape? Why is it so difficult for universities, ministries, scholars, and other actors, to ignore rankings? These are some of the questions that will be addressed by the talk.
About the Speaker
Dr. Jelena Brankovic is a sociologist and currently a postdoctoral researcher at Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology. Her research focuses on the role rankings and other forms of comparison play in the institutional dynamics within and across sectors, with a particular attention to rankings in the higher education sector. View her recent publications.
For more information regarding this event, please contact: