Week 11: The Importance of Being Supported – Issues Reflection

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    • #2476
      Jennifer Cotton

      In recent years, university rankings have given aspiring students and researchers a measure to assess the quality and performance of a university. Ergo, the hypothesis is the better the ranking, the better the university. I began to wonder just wonder just why a university’s ranking is so important, how it is determined and how it can be improved? I set out to find the answers to these questions found the answers to the first two questions are somewhat debatable, the answer to the third question lies within the library.

      As Cube Rankings explains there are two main types of rankings, World Ranking and National Rankings. It is difficult to compare the teaching and learning performance of universities between different countries, however, research output can be determined by looking at academic journals and web publishing statistics. National Rankings compare universities using data attained from federal government agencies or private companies. The data available for the National Rankings system is vast and can include student satisfaction surveys, academic reputation and graduate pay. For example, the Cube National University Rankings determine a university’s ranking by measuring 3 dimensions;

      1. Prestige (33% – determined by world rankings and/or admission standards)
      2. Ratings (33% – determined by course satisfaction rates of graduating students)
      3. Graduate Pay (33% – determined by graduate employment and median salary)

      Cube Rankings details how other ranking systems work as well as the rankings of Australian and overseas universities providing an interesting read should further information be sought. It is accepted rankings help benchmark and maintains a university’s position and reputation as stakeholders (students, government, community and corporate agencies) use the system to determine where to allocate their funding, scholarship and employee recruitment. The higher a university’s ranking , the more likely the stakeholders will choose to collaborate with the university, or simply put, the more students, the more sponsors and benefactors, the better a university’s prestige, influence and marketability.

      A high ranking university is more likely to receive funding than a lower ranked university. Critics of the ranking system say the stakeholders believe they will have greater success by choosing to invest in a higher ranking university. As a result, a cycle of cumulative advantage forms where lower ranked universities may receive less funding and higher ranked universities receive the most funding. Further readings into the impact of the rankings system can be found in here and here.

      Essentially, the better a performance of a university, the better its ranking and the more funding it will receive. It is therefore important for research to be adequately supported. In fact, a well resource library is an indicator of research performance and will attract and retain graduate students. Universities which invest in their libraries see a greater return of quality grant applications and therefore more revenue and better student outcomes.

      Universities which engage and support students and researchers are rewarded with higher academic outcomes. These outcomes include better employment outcomes for students, a higher amount of papers published, increased amount of PhDs awarded, more research grants and more <u>contracts income. </u>The ultimate result is a higher ranking and the cumulative cycle continues. Universities need quality researchers, and the best way to attract and maintain a high standard of research is to support the researchers. The best way to support researchers is to have a well-resourced library.

    • #2493
      Katherine Lee

      Really great post, Jenny. I thought the angle you took by focusing on university rankings was really interesting. I wonder, do you think a university could improve its ranking by investing more in developing their library?

      • #2517
        Jennifer Cotton

        Oh, thank you for your kind words Katherine. Yes I do, very much so. A good library should be both functional and inspiring. It should make you want to learn and help you on your academic pursuits. The more you want to learn, the better you’ll study and the better your results. This leads to increased student satisfaction and heavily impacts graduate pay and employment. These factors contribute to a university’s ranking.

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