Why do world university rankings seem rather biased towards American (and to a large

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flibber
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#1
Report Thread starter 6 years ago
#1
...extent, British universities?

Is this because the research papers written by Anglophone universities is (unsurprisingly) in English, hence they get faster recognition for research by other famous researchers, compared to a Russian university which writes its papers in Russian (which is not as widely understood)?

Or does the relative easiness of learning English (I mean, no grammatical genders and nowhere as many conjugations as French or German!) mean that British and American universities have a higher roaming field to search for and select the best applicants, as more international students (especially from India and China) apply? Even as many continental European universities are holding more (if not all) classes in English?

Or do the higher tuition fees in England and the United States mean that universities have more money to conduct ground-breaking research?
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DJKL
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#2
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#2
Re USA Institutions it is probably, "money makes the world go round, the world go round, the world go round...."

If you can pay superstar salaries you get superstars, look at Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Not sure why UK should pick up as many, as you point out. Oxford and Cambridge are certainly ,by UK standards, wealthy, and of course their history helps, but this cannot be the only reason as say Heidelberg has history but is much lower down the rankings. Some of the London universities make sense from a financial perspective, it is a wealthy city, but so are other capitals.

I would go for money, and history attracts money, but this does not account for all, say, top 40 entrants.
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EmperorPowerMan
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USA is the sole supwer power, they have the most money and I beleive their universities produce the most and the best research. They also have a huge amount of resources available to do this. Also, English is hard usually for non native speakers, gender isn't all that tricky and while their is less conjugation, English is one of the leats phonetic languages in the world (Things aren't pronounced how they are spelled) and there's a ****load of rules and exceptions to grammatical rules, and the pronunciation aint the easiest either, a wide variety of sounds.
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russellsteapot
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#4
As with any ranking system, be sure to look at the methodology employed by the compiler. Most of the world rankings I've seen place huge emphasis on nonsense like 'reputation' - essentially asking other academics to name universities they like. Obviously if they ask lots of anglophone academics, they'll name UK/US institutions (including the university they studied at, naturally), and obviously many others will just name the most famous universities.
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Tadpole123
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#5
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In addition to the factors mentioned above, many universities in germany/grand ecoles in France don't conduct much public research, which impacts significantly on their rankings.
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flibber
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#6
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(Original post by EmperorPowerMan)
USA is the sole supwer power, they have the most money and I beleive their universities produce the most and the best research. They also have a huge amount of resources available to do this. Also, English is hard usually for non native speakers, gender isn't all that tricky and while their is less conjugation, English is one of the leats phonetic languages in the world (Things aren't pronounced how they are spelled) and there's a ****load of rules and exceptions to grammatical rules, and the pronunciation aint the easiest either, a wide variety of sounds.
Why is there such a great disparity in quality in the world-class universities in the US and American high schools?
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flibber
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#7
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(Original post by EmperorPowerMan)
USA is the sole supwer power, they have the most money and I beleive their universities produce the most and the best research. They also have a huge amount of resources available to do this. Also, English is hard usually for non native speakers, gender isn't all that tricky and while their is less conjugation, English is one of the leats phonetic languages in the world (Things aren't pronounced how they are spelled) and there's a ****load of rules and exceptions to grammatical rules, and the pronunciation aint the easiest either, a wide variety of sounds.
(Original post by russellsteapot)
As with any ranking system, be sure to look at the methodology employed by the compiler. Most of the world rankings I've seen place huge emphasis on nonsense like 'reputation' - essentially asking other academics to name universities they like. Obviously if they ask lots of anglophone academics, they'll name UK/US institutions (including the university they studied at, naturally), and obviously many others will just name the most famous universities.
Are there any rankings which have a primary emphasis on the quality of teaching and academic performance, instead of reputation or citations?
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dingdongbat
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#8
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Most rankings rely on research reputation and that, in turn, on money. It is research strength that eventually makes journals in your language dominate and forces others to publish in your journals - you want to be seen by the movers and shakers, you publish where they publish.The US far outstrips others in research funding and they have also had an open immigration policy that draws in very high calibre researchers. Most of these come in as foot soldiers that do the experimental work as a spectacularly skilled underpaid disposal casual labour force. The few that succeed are retained to bolster their research strength. Consequently, they get a lot of bang for the research buck. Strong research draws in strong researchers in a virtuous circle.

UK was once a spectacularly rich country that also funded its research (comparatively) well at its time and therefore built strong research institutions that again created those virtuous circles. It also benefits from the ability to draw in high calibre researchers that will work at (comparatively) low wages on fixed term contracts. Even though it is no longer as wealthy as it was in the past, these factors allow it to punch way above its weight for its funding levels. The research institutions in Europe were destroyed by WW2, particularly in Germany that led the world in many scientific areas until the 1930s. Indeed, if you did chemistry back then, you learnt German because German journals carried much of the best chemistry of that period. A certain A. Hitler drove out some of their best academics to the US immeasurably strengthening that country's research.

Research strength requires research culture. You need systems that allow new ideas to arise and direct time, space and money to develop them. Countries like Japan should have stronger institutions given their economic strength but fail in this regard because of an excessively hierarchical cuture. You can change these things on a remarkably short timespan. Singapore spent ****loads and purchased in a lot of research strength to transform their institutions and you see them perform well in many global tables. Germany is also rising again with very targeted funding of their Max Planck institutes. With the size of the Chinese economy and their increasing research spending, it is not out of the question (again, depending on the vexed question of research culture) that the epicentre of research discourse may switch to a different language again. After all, it seamlessly moved from Latin to a range of European languages to English over the last few centuries. Ultimately, research really likes to speak in whatever language money also happens to be talking in.
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