World-class higher education (for whom?)
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The slogan “world-class education” is ubiquitous in education circles. This essay looks closely at who is advancing this idea, why, and where, and the kind of work it is asked to do. Though instruments for determining the world-class status of education institutions were first launched in the 1980s, they have grown exponentially in the past decade, for three main reasons. First, they offer opportunities for new players to enter the education sector and generate a profit from gathering and selling information. Second, they provide a way to generate competition within the sector, between component organizations. Finally, their global reach gives them tremendous power. A key concern with this concept, and the technologies associated with advancing it, is that they have not been sufficiently and critically engaged with in ways that show how central they are to orchestrating shifts in power and control over the education sectors they aim to govern, and that the interests involved operate in spaces with little public accountability.