The Academic Ranking of World Universities just got published.
Not a single Belgian University in the Top-100. Leuven comes in at 102 and Ghent at 106.
The “Academic Ranking of World Universities” (ARWU) is widely regarded as the best objective, international measure of university quality, and the ARWU says that excellent universities in Asia are scarce.
This seemed to me to be out of line with reality, and on further investigation, I concluded that the ARWU has a strong negative bias as a measure of the current quality of rapidly advancing universities.
In examining a paper on the ARWU methodology [pdf], I found that its scores place great weight on numbers of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals won, to publications in Science and Nature , and to publications listed in the Science Citation Index. The problem is that, as a consequence, the scores are weighted toward cumulative numbers, which are poor measures of rapidly rising institutions, such as the leading universities in China and India. For example, if an identical twin of Harvard materialized in Somerville or Beijing today, its rank would be abysmal for years to come.
In summary, the much-cited Academic Ranking of World Universities is very much a lagging indicator of quality.
Although that nuance may be good for the Asian universities, this is bad news for the Belgian universities.
The university of Leuven was founded in 1425 ! That’s almost 600 years ago. So if the ARWU is measuring (lagging) current quality of universities, that’s really bad news for Leuven.
Also, the omni-presence of US-universities should be of some concern to our society – the European in particular. This is also reflected in the number of innovation think tanks that exist in the world. Most are from US origin. Most of their analysis have a very US domestic focus.
That’s why our upcoming European based Think Tank for Long Term Future will try to change that, and start from the rich and diverse European culture and history. We’ll have our kick-off meeting with a number of passionate creatives and local captains of industry on 24 Nov 2009.
However, regional or anti-regional focus should not be the focus. And we do not want to start from a laggard’s position, as a catching-up strategy is always a loosing strategy.
In our inter-connected world, we are moving towards a new world order, based on collective intelligence and collective intention, inspired by transhumanism. I am preparing a separate post on that.
The focus will be on ensuring that our next generation is well prepared for a new world order. Preparing those who will be our leaders in 2030 is the focus.