I’ve been in some private conversations recently around university rankings. I’ve had views on this for a long time, feeling like it emphasizes a neoliberal agenda and uses arbitrary measures of quality that are often not really what universities should be measuring and valuing, while also standardizing universal measures that don’t celebrate differences amongst universities and their purposes and audiences.
So I want to propose a radical/critical approach… unranking maybe… and instead looking at institutions and their quality from a social justice lens. Here are some examples, and each institution would be given a level on each of these as: established or emergent. If they’re not doing it, then N/A, and if they’re brilliant at it, there would be a “thought/practice leader” option. And it would ne important for nstitutions to develop on these dimensions OVER TIME. So we know what’s going well, what isn’t, what action they are taking to improve. Compared to themselves. Not mainly to others.
Examples of dimensions (these are just examples, not comprehensive):
- Are female and LGBTQ faculty paid equally?
- Percentage of females in upper leadership positions
- Percentage of female STEM faculty and students and support programs for them
- Maternity leave and onsite child care policies
- Harassment policy/practice quality
Community Service Dimension
- Community-based learning courses and impact on local community
- Percentage of graduates who work in community service or volunteer in the sector
- Research outputs that benefit the local community in tangible ways
- Quality of community service extracurricular activities and their impact
- Rather than counting numbers of international faculty and students, evaluate quality of support given to help international students feel welcome and succeed
- The diversity of curricula in terms of readings from minority and international authors and use of culturally relevant and diverse pedagogy
- Programs to support minority students and students with disabilities and the impact on quality of courses and student experience
- Quality of wellbeing support for students, staff and faculty
- Reasonable workloads for faculty and students! Reasonable accommodations for people with mental health challenges
- Career support for diverse students, especially those with less incoming social and cultural capital
- Inclusivity of extracurricular programs – accessible to diverse students
- Programs (extracurricular?) in things like art, theater, music, and things like yoga, meditation, etc., and sports programs
Perhaps some of these dimensions are already taken into account, but I don’t think so. From what I have seen and read, most measures are more quantitative and proxies (e.g. % of international faculty, number of citations of publications total, regardless of how useful this research is to the world).
What do you think? Which dimensions would you include and how would you define them?