Evaluating quality of higher education systems

Are Universities a product of the quality of their national higher education system?

We see various world rankings of Universities published by numerous sources. Institutions place high value on their position and standing in these lists. Therefore it would be useful to understand the various national higher education systems better to fully appreciate some of these results and rankings that we often read.

I was reading an article recently The determinants of quality national higher education systems by Williams, de Rassenfosse, Jensen & Marginson. It provided great insight into the foundations that many of the world rankings are based upon. It surveyed and reviewed 48 countries and measured variables grouped into four major headings: Resources, Environment, Connectivity and Output.

For example,
Resources: Funding as a percentage of GDP and funding per FTE student
Environment: Regulatory environment, including degree of monitoring and employment conditions
Connectivity: Such as international collaboration in research publications
Output: Publications and their impact, student throughput, national numbers of graduates and researchers

Combined rankings shows the United States on top followed by Sweden, Canada, Finland and Denmark.

In the Asia-Pacific region, overall Australia ranked 8th (Best: Connectivity (4th). Lowest: Resources (19th)), Singapore 11th (Best: Connectivity (2nd). Lowest: Output (22nd) and New Zealand 14th (Best: Environment (=1st). Lowest: Resources (22nd)).

As the article surmises, countries who ranked higher on output tend to be ranked highly on resources. The weakest national systems are those with low government funding but high government control.

The article was an interesting read, I hope you find some value from its content.

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