The American University

Slate reports on what I have known for a long time:

A recent survey of “the world’s top universities” by Jiao Tong University in Shanghai reports that 17 of the top 20 institutions are in the United States, with Cambridge (No. 3), Oxford (No. 8), and Tokyo (No. 14) the exceptions on the list. The rankings are largely based on quantifiable measures of research performance, mostly articles published in prestigious journals and internationally significant research awards, such as Nobel Prizes. Reviewing these results, a recent issue of the Economist concluded that our country has “almost a monopoly on the world’s best universities [and] provides access to higher education for the bulk of those who deserve it.”

My experience of academia in the US is of a well-funded, research-driven enterprise, with premium value accorded to graduate study and good professorship. Which, of course, is why I’m here right now. All those Brits moaning about paying a few thousand pounds to go to Oxford: quit whining, pay your dues, and realise that good education needs investment. My community college kids pay more than you!



  1. Oxford is ranked second on the Europe top 100 regional list. I was surprised both that it ranked # 10 worldwide (I would’ve thought it’d be higher, but what’s an Oxfonian supposed to say?) and that it ranked higher than Yale (for some reason I would’ve thought it’d rank below Yale).


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