Edition 91 - November 2008

Lisbon Council: University systems rankings

According to the Brussels-based think tank the Lisbon Council, Australia, the United Kingdom and Denmark have one thing in common: their higher education systems are the best world-wide. The organisation carried out a year-long study in 17 OECD countries, looking at a series of selected indicators to map educational opportunities in these states.

Among the six main indicators were:

  • Inclusiveness of the system (the number of graduates a country produces as a percentage of the population theoretically available for advanced study);
  • Access to HE (based on OECD data);
  • Attractiveness (the percentage of foreign students coming to each country from their 10 top source countries); and
  • Responsiveness (the speed and effectiveness with which countries have adapted their education system to the criteria laid down in the Bologna Declaration).

The ranking, quite obviously, does not shed light on how individual universities perform, but it delivers a global comparison of how entire national HE systems are coping with today’s (and tomorrow’s) economic and social challenges

Even though it may be trivial to say - by limiting oneself to these indicators - that most higher education systems in Europe are too elitist and exclusive and that they hence rank at the bottom end of the list (Austria and Germany, for example), there is a certain truth and an innovative spark for Europe contained in the analysis. The global race for talent is on, and there is much homework to be done.

Lisbon Council

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