The Times has released their rankings of the world reputation for various universities. The news is rather depressing.
Overall, the US continues to dominate the rankings, with seven of the top 10 places and a total of 76 institutions in the top 200 – one more than last year and 45 more than any other nation. The UK has 31 representatives, followed by the Netherlands with 12.
But the US’ dominance of the rankings masks a picture of decline.
Although the US ultra-elite at the summit of the rankings have generally managed to consolidate their positions – with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology rising two places to fifth and the University of California, Berkeley moving from 10th to ninth – many more American institutions fell than climbed the table.
“If you only give a casual glance at the top 200, you’re likely to think it’s just a round-up of the usual suspects,” says Ruby. “Yes, many of the big names of US higher education head the list – the ‘super-brands’ still dominate, and they will continue to do so while they attend to core business and protect their image as elite research-based institutions.
“But when you look more closely, most of the flagship US public universities are slipping down.”
How can this be? Slipping? Us? I believe it.
And that’s exactly what’s been happening, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Public universities and colleges in nearly every state have seen their state funding decline sharply. Nationwide, states are on average spending 28 percent less this year than they did in 2008, a decrease of $2,353 per student. As a result, colleges and universities have had to raise tuition, make changes that undermine educational quality, or usually both.
Not surprisingly, the changing position of American universities mirrors the larger political economy of the United States: a few “super-brands” at the top (which educate the sons and daughters of the world’s elite) continue to stay at the top while most of the others (which are supposed to educate the children of the American working-class) are falling behind, both nationally and internationally.
Meanwhile, our Republican masters will consider all this a good thing, and propose more cuts to put those eggheads in their place, and consider more demands to include religious dogma in our science classes, and replace objective sources of information with more right-wing think tanks that give them the answers they want to hear.