A shocked and stunned America woke up today to find out
that it was no longer NUMBER 1!!!!

That is,  London's "Times Higher Education" annual World
University Rankings (WUR) places something called the
Oxford University (UK) as the best, I said THE BEST university
IN THE WORLD!?!?!  OXFORD knocks California Institute
of Technology out of 1st place into 2nd and it is the first
time in the 13 year history of the WUR that a non-U.S.
university has come in first.

Sidenote: Andrew "Andy" Hamilton, previously the Vice-Chancellor
of Oxford will be installed as the 16th President of NYU this
Sunday, Sept 25.  Presumably his job as Chancellor of Vice
at Oxford has made him prepared for working in NYC,
known as Sodom on the Hudson in parts of the U.S.

Getting back to shock and awe-shucks, the Wall Street
Journal has an article on the U.S. downfall as an intellectual
powerhouse in the WUR rankings; See:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/oxford-tops-list-of-worlds-best-universities-1474488002

And the list of WUR rankings can be accessed here:
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2017/world-ranking#!/page/0/length/25/sort_by/rank_label/sort_order/asc/cols/rank_only

A word on how WUR determines the rankings: quoting the WSJ:

|   WUR tends to focus on research, counting metrics like the
|number of citations and publications by a university's scholars
|and the amount of research funding attained in a given year.
|The list also takes reputation into account by surveying some
|20,000 leading scholars to identify top schools, said Phil Baty,
|rankings editor at Times Higher Education.
|
|"The single biggest individual indicator is research impact,"
|Mr. Baty said. "We're looking at 56 million citations,
|11.9 million research publications."

How did Oxford get to first place? Quoting the WSJ:

|Oxford's boost came from an exceptionally strong research
|income and global collaboration. The university secured record
|research income of £522.9 million, or $679 million at today's
|exchange rates, from external funders in the 2014-2015 academic
|year, said Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford.

Question: what is it with Oxford's fixation with vice and having
a chancellor of it?

In other bad news, NYU ranked only 32, being beat out by other
foreign universities like Peking University (#29) which is located
in some place called Beijing (why would they name a university
after a duck dish?).  U.S. schools occupy about a third of the top
200 WUR schools (same as the previous year) but British
universities drop to 16% from 17% while German universities
rise to 11% from 10%.  Asian universities make a strong showing,
especially China which has been putting money into their
universities to raise their international profile.

Unhappy U.S. academics try to alleviate their sorrow for their
fallen status by the use of cognitive restructuring, telling
themselves that such rankings are just a joke and reading
the following:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/opinion/sunday/why-college-rankings-are-a-joke.html?smid=li-share&_r=0

Even so, I think the U.S. still needs a hug.

-Mike Palij
New York University
m...@nyu.edu

P.S. Insert ;-) where appropriate.


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