A better way of rating universities

One of the slightly embarrassing things about working for a university, at least for those of us brought up to believe that big-noting yourself is bad form, is the academic obsession with status. The Jiao Tong rankings and the Times Higher Education Supplement rankings are the most anxiously awaited, though any vaguely credible assessment will grab the attention of academics and university administrators (here is a list of various rankings of Australian universities). At the micro level, all the indicators that help make up these rankings – research grants, publications in journals of varying prestige, awards received by staff etc – are the subject of much personal academic angst.

Universities regularly tell us how well they have done. ‘ANU ranks first among Australian universities’, its marketing and communications department tells us. ‘Melbourne moves up key world ranking’ says Melbourne University’s UniNews. La Trobe University’s trumpeting of its performance was pure spin. According to its press release:

La Trobe University has been ranked among Victoria