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I just checked the latest "University" rankings

#1 User is online   thepossum 

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Posted 2021-January-14, 00:52

I like to check each year to see how my Almas Maters (sorry if that's incorrect, I didn't study classics) are going since I left. I mean seriously is it almas mater, alma mater, almas maters, and should it be capitalised?

I'm not sure what is going on but there are not many left at the top of the University. It's dominated by tech colleges

I know I'm old school but Universities used to (have to) cover every discipline of knowledge in reasonable breadth and depth.

As far as I can see even a few Universities have gone tech to try to stay in the list. I checked one of their web sites to see and it was all tech. You look high and low for interesting research in all the non-tech areas. But can you find anything that doesn't involve an app, or an algorithm, or a piece of equipment? Very hard these days. It used to be that knowledge and thinking only required one piece of equipment and another fairly simple way of passing it on. Note. I'm not dissing whats involved in language, speech, communication and writing (of all kinds), but hope you get my drift.

That to me is a Problem

I'm imagining it's just a failure of, or manipulation, of some second-rate algorithm somewhere.
After all, the natural order of things shouldn't really change. It's clearly a bad model, or been badly truth tested

EDIT Apologies for any grammar or spelling errors. I need to keep checking, and have become so dependent on spell/grammar checkers you get a bit lazy. And I'm struggling with some useless keyboard and tablet which cost me a mint. And as far as I can see one of the software companies that I used to rely on (and trust) seem to have removed or hidden the spelling/grammar checker from the software suite I've paid for since it came out. And also for some weird reason those functions are not available by default in web site edit boxes. Oh and did I mention, not many things seem to work as reliably as they used to, our economies have been squeezed to death by a few tech giants leaving all the workers (and small skilled businesses, if they are prepared to sell their soul and offer services for peanuts against inferior giants) competing over a few scraps through a platform that takes all their money (and is brutally controlling and punitive), and you can't get onto a human being for support and assistance on anything - you get directed to a webite and chat bot that seems incapable of anything much. You end up being the person to do the support, testing and advice yourself etc., and try to advise people against all the incorrect, and 2nd or 3rd rate "correct" advice that passes for support these days. Meanwhile quality gets squeezed, everyone with tech shares have big grins and the Univerisites are being squeezed they have to sell their souls to tech too.
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#2 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-January-14, 01:35

I think that if you drill into it you will find that the things that contribute to the overall rankings are quite different. The Shanghai Jaitong rankings tend to favour research while the THE tended to favour student experience.
Each type of ranking serves a different purpose for University managers.
Take Medicine as a course, Most Universities like to have a medical course because it increases the amount of grant funding they attract. A notable exception being Princeton.
Overall grant funding is a key measure of success.

In the end though, people at graduate level tend to choose on the basis of the individual that they want to learn with.

This is not always true of course, In Australia, there is a massive amount of kudos attached to 'going to Oxford' although others are favoured as well.
I went to Auckland as a postdoc because that was where I could address a particular problem with the person I considered the best in the field at the time.
My Father trained in Sheffield for the same reason.

The overall 'rankings' do not provide a good measure for much except bragging rights.

It's a bit like citations in that way.
Many papers that are downloaded or cited are not that great.
Citations being a bit like - well - 'likes'.
Most of the Journals like to publish reviews because they attract a lot of likes (citations), but a review almost never creates new knowledge.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#3 User is online   thepossum 

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Posted 2021-January-14, 01:54

View Postpilowsky, on 2021-January-14, 01:35, said:

I think that if you drill into it you will find that the things that contribute to the overall rankings are quite different. The Shanghai Jaitong rankings tend to favour research while the THE tended to favour student experience.
Each type of ranking serves a different purpose for University managers.
Take Medicine as a course, Most Universities like to have a medical course because it increases the amount of grant funding they attract. A notable exception being Princeton.
Overall grant funding is a key measure of success.

In the end though, people at graduate level tend to choose on the basis of the individual that they want to learn with.

This is not always true of course, In Australia, there is a massive amount of kudos attached to 'going to Oxford' although others are favoured as well.
I went to Auckland as a postdoc because that was where I could address a particular problem with the person I considered the best in the field at the time.
My Father trained in Sheffield for the same reason.

The overall 'rankings' do not provide a good measure for much except bragging rights.

It's a bit like citations in that way.
Many papers that are downloaded or cited are not that great.
Citations being a bit like - well - 'likes'.
Most of the Journals like to publish reviews because they attract a lot of likes (citations), but a review almost never creates new knowledge.


Thx Pilowsky. I'm just concerned about the nature of the schools and how the rankings have become distorted in some way by tech of all kinds.

And there seems to ver much a quantity beats quality gig going down. I've observed that in person through my career and life, but its also borne out by the state of the world

I'm not at all being disresepctful of tech at the top level. Just rather concerned that everyone is mining distributions of quality to death and there is less and less left (if any). Its out of control

PS I forgot mass debt too funding it all
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#4 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-January-14, 03:59

The biggest problem facing academia at the moment is the commodification of education.

In Australia, there is a social contract where the government taxes at a rather progressive rate and then pays for the education of research students.
.
Even the co-contribution that vocational (e.g. medicine and engineering) students pay although not small, is still quite manageable and only has to be paid back when the persons salary exceeds a certain threshold.

When I started, we were on the crest of a financial wave that started when the Whitlam government made University education completely free (since rolled back somewhat).
Later, when I started my research career, there was a large increase in research funding.
Subsequently, research support dwindled under successive conservative governments.

I often hear the argument that PhDs are a waste of time, but then industry snap these highly trained people up into jobs that only people with good research (thinking) training can do.
That's the social contract: higher tax, well-trained workers.

For reasons that I cannot understand, some countries seem to have a system where the student pays, taxes are low and only the Employer benefits.
The rich employers then salve their consciences by 'donating' some of their ill-gotten gains to there favourite charity - sometimes.
Usually, their favourite charity includes politicians willing to give them lower taxes etc. On top of this, they get a tax break for giving away money they did not deserve in the first place. Explain that one to me with diagrams, please. The invisible hand scoops up all the money and keeps it.

Now we have multi-millionaires rich because that can jump and throw balls or hit balls with sticks or talk until your eyes water and ears bleed.
The elimination of sport (brief) from radio broadcasts and the explosion in online Bridge (hopefully long-lasting) were two positive things that came out of 2020.

In Australia, all the 'good' Universities and vocational training schools are public (although the two Catholic universities are gaining a foothold).

I am more concerned about the growing contempt for higher education generally than anything else.
Australia's education problems are very mild compared to many others.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#5 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2021-January-14, 05:25

I'm not sure what rankings you're looking at; this relatively recent one includes many general universities near the top (Stanford, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, etc).

Classifying some of the others as "tech universities" does them a bit of a disservice. For example, MIT (my own alma mater) has "technology" in its name but has world class programs in biology, mathematics, economics, music, and business (as well as the various engineering fields). Students are also required to take a significant number of humanities courses in order to graduate and the humanities faculty is quite strong from a "teaching" standpoint if not from the research side (we don't have history majors but we have a lot of history classes for example).
Adam W. Meyerson
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#6 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-January-14, 10:13

I happily went off to the University of Minnesota in 1956. A friend went to MIT and his experiences very much reflect what Adam is saying. Maybe you major in physics, but you take history and you can expect a good course.

At the U of Minn there was plenty of opportunity to learn. An illustration: As a senior in high school I was unaware of who Freud was, and unaware of quite a bit. The other day Becky was working a crossword puzzle and asked "Who was Electra's brother?" Orestes, of course, I learned that in 1958 at the U of M. Any questions about Electra and her mother?

But you had to reach for it. I took a course in the Foundations of Christianity from the poet John Berryman. But I didn't have to. A very good course.

I recall hearing something about horses and drinking water. We need to be sure that we make the water available. After that, I don't care all that much about rankings.

PS Becky was pretty sure it was Orestes, but not positive. And there is a lot that I am very unaware of. I was just illustrating a point.
Ken
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