Shanghai Jiao Tong University Rankings 2010

The 2010 rankings are available here, although the site is very busy.

As a semi-Dane, I am pleased to see two Danish universities in the top 100, along with a Norwegian university and a couple of Swedish ones.

TCD is in the 200-300 group, UCD in the 300-400 group.

OK, so all these rankings are to some extent silly, but at least in our field the ones repec put out are ‘order of magnitude sensible’. And given the government’s stress on the ‘knowledge economy’, and the amount of coverage the Times rankings get in Ireland, it seems worth pointing out that not all rankings show Irish universities in such a favourable light.

The Shanghai rankings have had a major influence in France, where policy makers were very shocked by how poorly French universities fared in the initial years of this index. The result was a major shake-up of the higher education sector there, with universities being given a lot more control of their budgets and hiring procedures.

54 thoughts on “Shanghai Jiao Tong University Rankings 2010”

  1. According to these stats, UCD and TCD’s performance is almost identical in terms of publications. TCD’s higher ranking is related mainly to Nobel prize winners among staff and graduates. In order to address this I think that Hugh should hop on the number 3 bus from UCD to Sandymount asap and offer a certain Nobel prize winning poet an adjunct professorship.

    Despite the many problems with the methodology employed in these rankings the results do reflect the variations in performance which those of us who work in the university sector are well aware of. For instance the poor performance of French, Italian and German Universities.

    But will these results in spite any efforts by the Irish government to help improve performance in the Irish university sector? The opposite seems to be the case. Not only was the sector starved of funds during the boom, since advent of the recession/depression the government has still refused to bite the bullet on fees and the leaks I have heard from the review group on third level indicate that the ‘big idea’ to reform the centre is more micro management of institutions and particularly lecturers (no one suggests that the copious administrators should be managed) by the ‘experts’ in the Department of Education.

  2. @Michelle Norris
    “Despite the many problems with the methodology employed in these rankings the results do reflect the variations in performance which those of us who work in the university sector are well aware of. For instance the poor performance of French, Italian and German Universities. ”

    This one wonders what on earth universities are for if the powerhouse of economic activity in Europe has the worst universities… perhaps some of our economists can come up with a formula to calculate the inverse proportionality between being academically revered and economically useful?

  3. Site is still to busy to make sense of the results, which underlines how important these rankings have become.

    The low ranking of Ireland’s top university suggest that we should compete on price rather than quality.

  4. The Irish rankings are poor.

    Switzerland has 3 in the top 100 and 2, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in the Top 100 for Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences.

    The Government is banking on a deeply flawed faith-based ‘smart economy’ strategy to “to make Ireland an innovation and commercialisation hub in Europe.”

    A big plus for the US is that its top universities attract bright foreign students and many stay in the country.

    In Silicon Valley, an estimated 50% of start-ups are either launched by an entrepreneur who was born overseas or one who is among the founding partners. The national average is 25%.

    President Obama spoke this week on the need for increasing university numbers to boost the economy.

    However, Germany has a stronger economy than France but half the percentage of young adults with a college degree:

    Higher Education and the Economy: Increasing educational attainment not magic bullet for economic growth

  5. @Richard: yes, and they are seen as a lot more important than the Times rankings in many countries: Le Monde reported last year that the Times rankings had been published “dans l’indifférence générale”.

    @Yoga: great comment. Although in fact Germany has 5 in the top 100 and France has 3, which is not bad I think. The fact that the Germanic countries (incl. Scandinavia and Switzerland) have so many in the top 100 goes against your point I think.

    @Michelle, re micromanagement: we will see what happens. It is worth pointing out that the huge predominance of the USA is due not just to the huge amount of money being pumped in by both the government and the private sector, but to competition for students and faculty, which I suppose we can all agree is more likely to improve standards than government micromanagement (precisely the approach which the French are now abandoning).

  6. @Kevin O’R
    “The fact that the Germanic countries (incl. Scandinavia and Switzerland) have so many in the top 100 goes against your point I think.”
    Drat.

    Anyway, there are two points that strike me:
    1. Do the measurements rank cross-disciplinary or do they sum up the different disciplines to achieve a ranking? (So does a world leading physics department add to a ranking or is it averaged out by the terrible fluid dynamics). If it is a sum of achievement (by whatever method the achievement is measured), then it would seem to favour super-universities, however poor on average they are. As such, an average ranking per academic or per student might be a better measurement?
    2. What are universities for? My experience of people who’ve been through German universities or technical colleges is that they’ve been trained to do something – they’ve been imparted with a skill that is of use to the economy.

  7. @Hogan,

    A professor in TCD once told that the most important function of a university wasn’t that it gave economic serving skills to students but rather it passed down a countries collective wisdom to the next generation and then to add to it.

    Measuring a university is an incredibly difficult task but attempts are necessary despite how imperfect they may be.

  8. @ Kevin O’Rourke

    Yes, France’s performance (sixth by number of top-100s) only seems particularly disappointing in contrast to French self-perceptions.

    One thing that jumps out about ARWU is the very low weight (10%) given to per-capita performance. A look at the rankings seems to confirm that this produces some odd outcomes. The special place reserved for Time and Newsweek – sorry, I mean Nature and Science – is eye-catching too, but I have no indication of how it affects the rankings.

  9. @Yoga: one obvious intellectual move for you to make at this stage would be to ask about the direction of causation: are good universities causing affluence or vice versa? Or are they both being caused by some third factor? In the case of Scandinavia, there is clear evidence that their high standard of education has been good for growth in lots of ways — e.g. the role of Folk High Schools, agricultural research institutes and so on in boosting Danish agriculture more than a century ago. But you could also argue that the Scandinavians have good universities for the same reason that they are successful generally: they are hard-working, pay attention to little details, and have long traditions of openness, transparency, mass education and social mobility.

    @anonym: this ranking will be bad for small universities whose relative strengths are in the humanities and social sciences. Some would say that Irish universities fall into this category.

  10. @Kevin
    I agree, it is the next logical step. And as you point out, it is the next logical step to try and decipher the chicken from the egg. My own suspicion would be that it is not really a chicken and egg situation, rather it is a symbiosis. The result of that can be that one can strangle the other; I think we have seen that in Ireland in recent years – anti-intellectualism in government and (bubble?) businesses mirrored in ivory-tower retreat (education has its own place divorced from the rest of the economy).

    Both attitudes have been bad both for society and for the economy. Recently we’ve seen two situations that show where academia could have been valuable to us.
    1. Economics/bubble/financial crisis – Mr. Kelly’s papers accurately predicted some of the outcomes of the bubble. A more engaged society and politocracy would have engaged with it.
    2. NIRSA – spatial strategy. A more timely investigation of what was being built and where, perhaps before the tax incentives were implemented, might have sparked a debate about it.

    One might add Mr. Tol’s attempts to assess costs and benefits in ‘green’ energy and waste disposal to the mix – this is an ongoing process and has already sparked considerable debate. Which can only be a good thing.

    The problem is that the state has set up quangos that intermediate between politics and research. Too often partisan reports are produced to back up a particular view or where a critique is produced it is intermediated through the quango and buried or bowdlerised.

  11. I now got through to their site. The methodology is better than last year. There is still a lot of weight on Nobel laureates and Highly Cited Researchers, but the exclusive focus on a few top journals has been replaced with the top 20% (by impact factor).

    Bigger universities do better, by construction, but perhaps Ireland’s poor performance alerts our dear leaders, say, to the fact that seven (7) economics departments is quite a lot for 4.5 mln people.

  12. @hoganmahew

    I think we have seen that in Ireland in recent years – anti-intellectualism in government and (bubble?) businesses

    Oh, you mean anti-intellectualism like this?:

    one wonders what on earth universities are for if the powerhouse of economic activity in Europe has the worst universities…

    Could there be a purer expression of philistinism? But I’m afraid it’s rife on this board….

  13. @ hoganmahew

    Maybe its a trade-off between having a few elite universities and lots of terrible ones versus having lots of middling universities in a country. Germany is well know for its good vocational education.

  14. @Rory
    I agree with you. A reasonably well-educated wide population in the country must surely be of more use than a few who are super-educated? (Not that we don’t need the super-educated, just that countries that focus on widespread education, whether vocational or not) seem to have better outcomes?).

  15. I think Rory makes a good point: clearly the world’s best universities are very heavily concentrated in the USA (which nobody needed a survey to find out). But of course these universities are not necessarily characteristic of the overall HE experience in that country.

  16. Am I the only one who finds it distasteful that this site is dominated by discussion of absurd academic rankings of universities just when it seems that things may be approaching end-game for our fiscal crisis? I have turned to this site several times in the last few days for enlightenment on disturbing tit-bits in the newspapers and all I see is this irrelevant rubbish.

    Are these rankings adjusted in any way for the appalling performance of most economists in the recent past. It seems it doesn’t matter how wrong you are , so long as you are regularly quoted by your brain-dead fellow conformist peers.

  17. @ Tim O’Halloran

    Prof. O’Rourke is well able to fight his own corner but complaining that the site is “dominated” by discussions on rankings is a little exaggerated or simply ridiculous. Check the archive if you wish – – why would you assume that the current posts in the holiday month of August, reflect the full range of more than a year of content?

    The last thread opened is the one on top (until Google’s deal with Verizon, it could be termed default net neutrality); it does not imply that it’s the most important post; just a wee way down, there is a thread with 146 contributions on Dr. Honohan, The Daily Telegraph and bond spreads.

    As for rankings, people can argue about methodology of different international rankings and their credibility but they usually evoke attention, be it competitiveness, cost of living, university rankings, city quality of living, mba rankings etc. Why for example would the FT spend resources in such an are if there was no reader interest?

    As for “irrelevant rubbish” and “appalling performance of most economists in the recent past”, it begs the question as to why you would need to seek inspiration from the site given your own anger, prejudices and propensity for abuse.

  18. @Tim O’Halloran
    See Michael H’s response.

    If you’d read the job description of an university economist, you would realize that teaching, university management, and fundamental research are the three top priorities — with community services a distant fourth and public services a remote fifth. The economists in the universities in Ireland and elsewhere have gone far beyond the call of duty, freely lending their time and expertise to the public and the government during this Great Recession.

    Your comments are more than just ignorant.

  19. It isn’t the fault of the academic economists who maintain this site at their own expense that our government’s only economic growth strategy, apart from waiting for something to turn up, is the smart economy. But since this appears to be the case, we are entitled to comment on the strategy along various dimensions. I think it is precisely because we are aware of these various rankings — and not just the ones which show Irish universities in a good light — and the realities which they reflect, that so many of us are sceptical about government rhetoric in this area.

  20. On re-reading my submission I see that ‘your brain-dead fellow conformist peers.’ could be interpreted as being directed at your contributors. As Mr. Hennigan points out , if I thought that I would be a fool to regularly check your site for enlightenment, which I do.

    Can you not see the absurdity of accepting the validity of a measuring system that rewards conformity (ie no. of citations) when you are all members of a profession that has so recently so spectacularly failed the world and this country in particular , not from a lack of expertise , from an unwillingness to confront a dominant ideology?

    The general public pays the wages of university economists, not the non tax residents oligarchs who run this state. The profession as a whole has let those people in the last decade and should display some humiility and shame about that, even if the contributors to this site may not be as guilty as most.

    There is very careful management of economic news in this country, which the mainstream media seem happy , even proud to go along with (the green jersey and all that). People turn to sites like this for serious disinterested comment. Some are looking for some estimation for the future and thelikelihood of their losing their jobs. They do not appreciate being met by this navel gazing obsession with university rankings from people with secure jobs paid for by the ordinary citzen.

    And careful with the ‘ignorant’ jibe Mr Tol. I was studying economics when you were in infants school, long before it became the ideological joke that it is today. Whatever it says on university economists’ job description they have a clear duty to the people who pay their wages. While many of them have been free with thier opinions since the Graet Recession began, they conceded the airwaves to ‘Chief Economists’ from financial institutions in the years leading up to the bust. That abnegation materially contributed to the current crisis.

    A little hunmility is in order and a little less prissy posturing.

  21. Two thoughts:

    A very rough look at the numbers suggests to me that if TCD and UCD were accounted for as a single institution it would rank at the upper end of the 101-150 range while being of unremarkable size. Whether that’s evidence in favour of Irish university mergers or against taking ARWU very seriously is another question. (I notice that Arizona State’s leap up the rankings apparently overlaps with a period of mergers and expansion in size.)

    Overall ARWU suggests that the Irish university system isn’t benefiting as much as it should from our proximity (physical and otherwise) to the UK. Whatever about toppling Stanford or UCL, you’d expect that at least one university in the country could realistically match, say, Bristol or Sheffield as one of the clutch of considerable universities clustered together around the UK’s handful of truly elite institutions.

  22. Way to go dudes. Quickly shift the debate away from the arena that you control. Of course, Irish academics are not responsible for the current economic mess, that’s what elected politicians are for. But Irish academics are totally and utterly responsible for their truly abysmal internaltional research performance. Wake up and look at the rankings.

    How do you explain the fact that the very best paid academics in the entire world (Irish professors and lecturers) rank lowest in research performance. Good God, NUI Maynooth and UCG are so poor that they are not even ranked. But the boys and girls in Maynooth and Galway are still cashing those huge pay checks.

  23. @Tim O’H
    As a university professor (at Vrije U), I am indeed paid from the public purse but to do a very specific job.

    The Great Recession hit the entire economics profession from leftfield. There is no correlation between someone’s pre-recession rank and her views on the fragility of the pre-recession economy. Conformism has nothing to do with our inability to see this coming.

    @Geronimo
    Note that the SJTU ranking does not correct for the size of the department. Ireland’s small departments would fare badly even if every individual were brilliant (which too often they are not).

  24. “Richard Tol Says:

    August 16th, 2010 at 8:27 am

    @Geronimo
    Note that the SJTU ranking does not correct for the size of the department. Ireland’s small departments would fare badly even if every individual were brilliant (which too often they are not).”

    Ok, Lets correct for size

    University of Chicago has 31 faculty in economics and is ranked 2nd in the world. UCD has 29 faculty in economics. What should UCD’s ranking be in the Economics arena? If size is the determining factor, UCD should perhaps rank 3rd or 4th. For God’s sakes, UCD is completely off the radar.

    This ain’t rocket science, something else is going on.

  25. @Geronimo
    UCD is large by Irish standards and U Chicago is small by international standards — but you are of course right that lack of size is not the whole explanation.

  26. @ Richard & Geronimo

    As a matter of interest, have either of you calculated how much each department (UCD and Chicago) costs to run and how much each brings in in grants? Just curious.

  27. @Tim O’Halloran and Geronimo,

    You are not the first (and, I’m pretty sure you won’t be the last) to use this site to berate the Irish economics profession for a perceived failure to shout from the rooftops about the bubble economy and the risks of the economic calamity that subsequently transpired – and that proved even more calamitious than the most battle-hardened among us expected.

    Although some contributors here have taken umbrage at the perceived intemperate nature of your comments, I sense a justifiable frustration at the lack of openness and public engagement in the economic policy-making process. But I fear your fire is misdirected. Indeed, the existence of this site, provided free by public-spirited academic economists, is a very welcome development as it has shown an enormous demand for public debate on these pressing economic issues.

    As Richard Tol has pointed out, very few academic economists (and researchers in other bodies) are engaged in economic policy issues – and those that are have little time and resource to devote to ‘pro-bono’ engagement. There are contractual employment constraints and the over-riding reality is that there is no revenue-generating demand to call forth the necessary application of resources and effort.

    In any system of democratic governance the principal source of demand for this type of economic input should come from legislators seeking to gain an understanding of the economic issues and impacts as they enact legislation, as they scrutinise policy proposals emerging from the government machine and as they seek to assess the economic arguments being advanced by special interests.

    Even in straitened economic circumstances, there is a strong argument for moving some of the policy-making resource from government departments to corresponding Oireachtas Committees, to beef up resources and capability both in departments and in the Committees and to secure a flow of qualified external advice , to require Ministers to vacate their Oireachats seats on appointment and to empower Oireachtas Committees to scrutinise not only Ministers, but also their senior officials.

    The Oireacthas has the power to do this on behalf of the people – and the ability to bend a reluctant executive to its will – but the party hierarchies are more focused on strengthening their factions and securing or retaining political power than are they are on good governance. In any event, so much sovereignty on monetary, fiscal, financial and economic policy has been assigned to the EU institutions that little remains, but it makes it more important that what remains is exercised in the public interest.

    And as regards this focus on the quantification and ranking of academic quality, my focus would be less on quality and more on quantity to ensure the widest spread of a basic level of economic competence. The modern abaility to access quality anywhere in the world will raise the game everywhere, but an economically literate electorate is more important for good governance.

  28. @ Geronimo

    NUI Galway has 526 faculty, NUI Maynooth 252 (according to WP). At low faculty sizes it is difficult to manage a decent score on ARWU, which is almost solely about absolute, not per-capita achievement.

    (PS: could someone approve my comment in moderation?)

  29. @Paul Hunt

    Even if many economists work well away from the area of public policy, that should have stopped no-one from commenting on hte Irish bubble. It was obvious abd required no detailed research. Morgan Kelly’s paper of 2007 , warnign of the crash, (?) famously contained not a single equation.

    I cannot see how a democracy can operate if the only independant source of economic knowledge (in the univesrites and publicly funded institutes ) is staffed by people who think commenting on public affairs is working ‘pro-bono’ (a la Richard Tol). We would be left with no-one except the infamous ‘Chief Economists’ to ‘inform’ public debate.

  30. @Tim O’Halloran,

    I fear you may may missed the thrust of my (unfortunately long) comment. I would contend we need to distinguish between (and among) (a) informed comment, (b) policy analysis and (c) policy analysis that is embedded in the process of democratic governance.

    You will get plenty of (a) on this site – in particular from the named contributors on the side-bar. Producing (b) requires time and resources and unless someone is prepared to pay for it, it generally does not happen. The head of a department (or a senior academic able to source external funds) may be able to do or direct this type of work, but it has to fit within the academic and publication requirements. In addition, as the late Tony Judt pointed out in one of his last essays “If words fail..”: “The professionalisation of academic writing – and the grasping of humanists for the security of theory and methodology – favours obscurantism.” For (c) to be produced there has to be a demand within the process of governance – preferably from the legislature.

    In Ireland, where they exercise ‘executive dominance’ over the Oireachtas that is more extreme than, perhaps, most of the other EU parliamentary democracies, governments tend to ignore and/or rubbish (a) and (b) if they are critical of government policyand they make sure there is no demand for (c). In addition, because government and goverment agencies and bodies are the principal sources of demand for economic consulting services and reports, those who are in position to provide them often find that “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.

    I have previously asserted that if every living Nobel (non-freshwater) economics laureate had gathered weekly in front of Government Buildings for the last decade issuing jeremiads against government policy it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference. It for is members of the Oireachtas to exercise the authority voters have delegated to them to demand (and pay for) the necessary independent economic analysis to hold governments to account.

  31. @Tim O’H
    You make two mistakes. First, much of the problem has to do with finance and banking. Many economists, myself included, have no particular expertise in that area and are therefore right not to comment. Second, bus drivers are paid by public money too, but we do not expect them to stop driving and start solving the depression. Similarly, economists have a day job too.

  32. @ Tim O’Halloran

    “Even if many economists work well away from the area of public policy, that should have stopped no-one from commenting on hte Irish bubble”

    There are a small number of national media outlets and it is only in recent times that the Irish Times have added a second ‘opinion’ page.

    I’m sure that many more articles from economists were binned over the years than published.

    The pr/economists in the banks had communication departments, pr agencies and entertainment budgets.

    The interest in developing a ‘media personality’ as in politics involves ego and time investment in ensuring that say RTÉ producers will have your name pop-up when there is a relevant story.

    As evidenced by your reaction, there is the inevitable pull to become a ‘media personality’ because otherwise, an accomplished individual may well be viewed as irrelevant.

    The conservative Irish have been slow to adapt to the web and many people still think that the broadcast media and newspapers are the ‘media.”

    I get material from US economists but in almost 14 years, I have never got any article from an Irish economist – – even though for a particular audience, it could have much more “longevity” than a mainstream newspaper article.

  33. @ Michael Hennigan

    The pr/economists in the banks had communication departments, pr agencies and entertainment budgets.

    Then there’s Pat McArdle’s smooth move from Ulster Bank to the Irish Times, which raises further questions.

  34. @Richard,

    You may be being a tad dismissive. I sense a justifiable public frustration at the perceived “dogs that didn’t bark” – and are still not barking to any discernible effect. If, as Paul Volcker recently observed “Economics is fundamentally about efficiently allocating resources so as to maximize the welfare of individuals” and people observe that resources are being misallocated and the welfare of individuals is being damaged, it is, perhaps, understandable that some may begin to wonder for what are they paying economists. The fact that relatively little output of academic and research economists is of direct relevance in the policy sphere – and that even less has any impact – may add to this understandable annoyance. And it is difficult to convince voters that determining demand for the kind of policy analysis and input they seem to desire is in their hands and in those of their public representatives.

  35. @Paul Hunt @Tim

    An additional source of frustration, not just to academics, is the lack of data on which to base independent studies. It appears that in Ireland of the past, only commissioned studies had access to data source. This is now being partially corrected by increasing openness on the part of the Central Bank and on the requirements of the EU Maastrict limits for full state accounts to be published. The CSO also seems to be doing a bit more.

    There is, however, still a shocking dearth of concrete statistics – house sale prices, incomes (by NACE) on a timely basis, any information at all on small businesses or the differing sectors of the self-employed. It is possible to find out more about the conditions of the surface of the sun than it is about what specifically tax revenue is spent on.

    So economist are kind of stuck following the data – they can only write about what there is data to support. In part this is a result of a move to a more methodological structure (so one is not permitted to ‘suppose’, one must ‘prove’ or at least ‘infer’), but it is also (and mainly in my view) down to hoarding of aggregate data that should not be otherwise secret.

  36. @Richard Tol

    To extend your metaphor, I’d expect the bus-driver to flag it to his union if the maintenance of the fleet’s brakes was systematically neglected. I’d be dissapointed if he refused on the grounds that he was not an expert mechanic.

    Why so touchy? I work in IT. As far as I am concerned the IT industry, or rather that a subsection in the IT consulancy houses committted a great fruad on the world economy 10 years ago i.e. the Y2K scam. I said it was a con before after and during the scam. It made me look out of touch with modern computer science, it did not impress my employers, but it was the truth, now universally acknowledged, except by those wedded tp the absurdities of computer ‘science’. I don’t feel insulted as a member of a profession if someone alludes to that fiasco, why should I?

    Economists were involved in seriously misleading the public in the bubble and were not contradicted by their colleagues in the universities (for whatever reason ). It is a nonsense to discuss the merits of any economics faculty in this state following the greatest failure of economic policy ever seen in a developed country. It may be a sin of ommision but it was a mighty ommision.

  37. @hogan,

    We could be going round in circles here. Governments will never voluntarily reveal data or information – or ensure systematic collection and publication of these – that might allow effective scrutiny of their sins of omission and commission. We’re back to citizens and their public representatives demanding it and ensuring the executive complies. And it is, of course, linked to FoI.

  38. @Tim O’H
    Ireland-based economists have warned time and again about property bubbles and fiscal imbalances and have, since Sep 08, invested a large amount of time and effort, largely unrenumerated, in advising how to get out of the mess.

    I’m not touchy, by the way, because none of this involves me. I’m just tired of people like you who put the blame where it does not belong because they’re too lazy to inform themselves.

  39. I am a bit puzzled by criticisms of economists (I’m not one) on the issue of the fragility of the Celtic Tiger. Every politician in the oligarchy that defines Irish polity witnessed property prices rising at rocket speed. Many of the same politicians were only too pleased to have the opportunity to extend a bit of patronage when rezoning, tax incentives or tax avoidance schemes were suggested. The capital allowance write-off for hotel construction was a total disaster. What banking genius foresaw that Tallaght would become such a hot-spot for tourism that it would require half-a-dozen hotels? Anyone familiar with the property bust of the early 80s (esp. agri land) or the mini-boom and drop of the very early 90s in house prices could have made a reasonable stab at predicting collapse and urging caution once interest rates came down. But the whole country was encouraged to churn property and package up the profits in more property. How many politicians and banking spokespeople took pains to reassure investors (almost the entire working population) that a soft landing was on the cards. Yes, this time it would be different.

  40. “Paul Hunt Says:
    August 16th, 2010 at 10:14 am

    @Tim O’Halloran and Geronimo,

    You are not the first (and, I’m pretty sure you won’t be the last) to use this site to berate the Irish economics profession for a perceived failure to shout from the rooftops about the bubble economy and the risks of the economic calamity that subsequently transpired – and that proved even more calamitious than the most battle-hardened among us expected.”

    That is exactly what I am NOT doing. Of course, Irish academic economists are not to blame for the bubble and crash. Very clever to keep raising that MacGuffin. What Irish academics are responsible for is their abysmal international rank in research performance.

  41. @Geronimo
    Thanks for leading us back to the actual topic.

    Individual academics are of course only responsible for their own performance and for their own hiring decisions. Unfortunately, only a minority does well. For that, blame the system — but as universities are self-governed to a degree, that comes right back at us.

    I see three major ills. First, output is not measured — indeed, any attempt to measure it is met with the sort of hostility you see above. Second, the system is too fragmented — there are just too many universities, all of which lack critical mass. Third, pay is too egalitarian and too high on average — which means that the bad people have no reason to leave and but you still can’t attract the real top.

  42. @Geronimo,

    Apologies for accusing you unfairly. The last para. in my 10:14 comment was directed at the point you raised; but I also believe that universities have a role in enhancing the economic literacy of the population generally. Since it seems rankings are required I can understand that they will be determined by the extent to which universities are at the cutting edge of research, but I believe the wider pedagogic role should not be discounted.

  43. Michael Smurfit business school (UCD) is considered to be one of the best in Ireland, No.33 in Europe by FT, they are one of only 25 schools in the world to hold the triple crown. So i think Irish universities do have a good reputation but because the size of the labour market and poor job creation, most of graduates can’t find any relevant jobs after graduation. For example, I was graduated from Smurfit school since 2009, there were 25 full time master students in my class (e-business), only 5 people found jobs after graduation, including one person was working for his dad’s company.

  44. Prestige. Vanity. Credit ratings.

    Like a bubble, these sorts of things peak then mock throughout the depression, like the Empire State and the Dubai follies.

    The internet will destroy most “universities” in the present meaning of the term. But llike an unsustainable bubble, it can take a long, long, long, while to do so.

    Decades of depression ahead is the best to look forward too. World wide calamity and war is on the bad side of the future.

    Adam Smith’s invisible hand seems more like vanity every day?

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