High performance higher education: what works around the world

Prefer data to opinion surveys in rankings of university-systems? You need Williams and Leahy

The ninth and last Universitas 21  ranking of national HE systems is out.

As with the other eight, Ross Willams and Anne Leahy (Uni Melbourne) have produced a data-thick, opinion-thin guide to higher education outputs around the world. With Professor Williams retiring it is the last, which will be a loss to policy makers everywhere.

This year’s results for Australia are much like the last, (CMM April 3 2019).

resources: 14th this year, 12th last. It is pulled down by the 34th place for public HE expenditure, “although the official data do not reflect the full cost of the student loans scheme”. Australia is seventh for total expenditure as a share of GDP

policy environment: second last year and this

connectivity: the overall measure of connection with society, international education and research links was 13th in the 2019 edition and 12th now

output: third this year (fourth last) on factors including research volume and impact, plus post-compulsory participation and graduate employment.

What nine years of data analysis demonstrates

Williams and Leahy conclude;

* there is a strong relationship between research funding and performance

* the public-private funding mix, “is of little importance for performance”

* in low population nations, informal links are easy to make between industry, tertiary institutions and government

* “there is a trade-off between the amount of government control and the level of government funding

* “the worst systems combine tight government control with limited government funding

*  there is a negative relationship between international connectivity and population size

* there is a positive relationship between connectivity and research performance