ACU Insights #3 - December 2012

In this issue…

Aren't we more than our rankings?

You can’t measure what you don’t count, goes the old adage.  Rankings and benchmarking exercises abound in higher education, but in a world with hundreds of measurements, isn’t it time that institutions went beyond their rankings? The simple question posed to delegates at the ACU’s recent Executive Heads conference: ‘do university rankings and benchmarking really matter?’ perhaps unsurprisingly didn’t meet a straightforward answer. 

Development and independence - higher education in small island states

The contribution that a university makes to national development is routinely cited when justifying higher education and international aid programmes alike. How does this argument apply when a university has a significant regional remit, and where distinctions between developing and developed countries are less certain? The University of the South Pacific is a powerful example which runs counter to prevailing orthodoxies, raising questions about dependence and interdependency.

Open access- transformative and disruptive

A year ago open access was something of a fringe concern, promoted by passionate researchers and librarians, and by some funders and publishers, but largely neglected by many involved in higher education. The publication of a series of major reports and policy guidelines have rapidly brought it to the attention of a much wider constituency.  Positions shift quickly, as new questions arise, and new implications begin to emerge, but much is still uncertain.

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The authors Nick Mulhern, Jonathan Harle and Joyce Achampong are always pleased to receive feedback on the usefulness and content of the ACU Insights briefing, as well as news on developments in HE which might be of wider interest. They can be contacted at