2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips

This Duke Fuqua 2012 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. Check out the entire 2012 MBA Application Tips series for more valuable MBA essay advice.

Three essay questions must be completed before submitting your application. Prepare your essays carefully. The Admissions Committee considers your responses to the questions important in the selection process. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing. Your response to each question should be no more than 2 pages in length, with a font size no less than 10-point.

Candidates who applied to The Duke MBA between September 2010 and May 2011 are considered re-applicants. All re-applicants are required to complete the Re-applicant Essay in addition to the Applicant Essays.

All applicants have the opportunity to submit an optional essay to explain any extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware.

Duke has staked out a position for itself as a global university and claims Fuqua as the “world’s first legitimately global business school.” (Other schools may just disagree with that claim.) Fuqua has campuses in St. Petersberg, Dubai, London, Shanghai, and New Delhi. First or not, its global approach to business is real, and it offers unusual opportunity for students interested in studying global business.

Furthermore Fuqua is not just trying to cross geographic or political borders; it aims to rethink intellectual borders. It promises a multi-disciplinary approach to studying business that also encourages study outside Fuqua.

Duke is very proud of its diverse and collaborative community. Consequently, it carefully selects community members. The questions below are an opportunity for you to introduce yourself as an individual, a member of your community or team, and a professional and future global business leader. All facets are important to Fuqua.

Applicant Essays: Answer all 3 essay questions.

Today, companies must navigate through complex and interdependent issues. They must deal with health and security matters, environmental impact questions, and diversity and cultural concerns. Leaders need adaptability, imagination, emotional intelligence, and business acumen. Thus, Duke is in the midst of an ambitious global venture that will embed and connect us around the world, and we are seeking future leaders of consequence, who value diversity and collaborative leadership, and who aspire to impact the companies and communities of which they are a part in a lasting and positive way.

In an effort to identify, engage, and foster the development of future leaders of consequence, the Admissions Committee would like to get to know our applicants in a more holistic manner. We would like to know who you are, what has shaped you into the person you are today, and how you hope to impact both Duke and the communities of which you will be a part in the future. The essays are your opportunity to convey that to us. Please be open, genuine, and passionate. Share with us what makes you a dynamic, multi-dimensional person.

What role in the world would you like to play? Where would you like to have impact? What do you value? Where have you contributed in the past? When answering the questions below, keep in mind Duke’s emphasis on the connections between business and non-business disciplines and its “globally distributed” campus.

1. Describe your vision for your career and your inspiration for pursuing this career path.

Duke is asking you to connect the dots between an influential experience or two and your future MBA goals. Duke saves “Why Duke” for a separate question.

I don’t think I can overemphasize the importance of this essay in establishing your credibility as a serious candidate. I know I have harangued you regularly about the importance of goals in MBA admissions, and I will keep on doing it. Just remember that this essay will show whether you have done your homework — personal introspection and career networking — or not.

2. How will your background, values, and non-work activities enhance the experience of other Duke MBA students and add value to Fuqua’s diverse culture?

Reveal your research on Duke’s deeply collaborative culture. Where do you intend to contribute? Where have your past non-professional commitments prepared you to contribute at Fuqua? Is it an enthusiastic commitment to your church, Habitat for Humanity, a local environmental cause, or an art, hobby, or sport? Is it an distinctive facet of your background? Perhaps overcoming distinctive challenges? And then how will this unique element enable you to participate at Duke? Will it lead to involvement in a specific group or Fuqua project or a particular program? Show your knowledge of Fuqua as well as fit between you and the school.

3. Why Duke? (If you are interested in a specific concentration, joint degree, clubs or activities, please discuss how you would contribute to these in this essay.)

While #2 asks how your non-professional experiences will enable you to contribute to Fuqua, this question focuses more on how Fuqua will meet your educational needs and help you realize your professional vision.

The focus on your needs isn’t total, however. You should discuss which programs or concentrations will help you attain your dreams and also demonstrate a willingness to give. Have you reviewed the different opportunities for participation in Fuqua’s rich extra-curricular life? You should before you reply to this question.

Optional Essay (not required)

If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weakness in your application)

Why isn’t your current supervisor writing your rec? Why is there a six-month gap on your resume? Why did your grades dip during the first semester of your senior year? What are your responsibilities while working for a family business after having left a prestigious investment bank, and why did you make the change? Answering any of those questions (but not all) could be the topic of your optional essay. And of course an infinite number of similar subjects could be worthwhile discussing in the optional essay.

Re-applicant Essay

All re-applicants are required to complete the Re-applicant Essay. Please limit your response to two pages. Write an essay describing how you are now a stronger candidate for admission compared to the application you submitted the previous year.

This is the question that adcoms want MBA reapplicants to answer. It is self-explanatory and critical.

Duke Fuqua 2012 Deadlines

Round Due Date Notification

Early Action September 29, 2011 December 5, 2011

Round 1 October 24, 2011 February 1, 2012

Round 2 January 4, 2012 March 20, 2012

Round 3 March 8, 2012 May 4, 2012

If you would like professional guidance with your Fuqua MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our Duke Fuqua MBA Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Fuqua MBA application.

Linda Abraham By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.

How to find College Scholarship grants

If you’re a new comer to the school world or you’re still in senior high school and don’t know how to find college scholarship grants, you will want to look at this.

College scholarship grants and grants or loans are known as educational funding. Scholarship grants have the freedom money provided to you if won by you a essay contest or fit certain criteria. Grants or loans are provided and therefore are free money that never needs to be compensated back. Student financial loans are financial loans provided to you as lengthy when you are signed up for school half-time and they’ve to become compensated back once you finish school.
You will find several websites that provide scholarship grants or provide you with a scholarship database I would recommend searching individuals out (see below). If you prefer a scholarship you will need to apply early, not really a week before you begin school, like when you are still in senior high school or at best six several weeks prior to being planning to visit college.
Additionally you ought to be using frequently, don’t simply affect 2 or 3 and sit around and wait on the decision on individuals make an application for everybody that you simply discover that you be eligible for a. Don’t waste your time and effort using for scholarship grants that you don’t be eligible for a. Make certain that you simply look into the needs before beginning the applying process to make certain that you simply meet every single one of these not only many of them.
Each year we learn about the price of obtaining a greater education rising it is now time to try to get scholarship grants don’t even think that the college funds will guide you through everything. You should know the living costs, you realize you need to eat, you need clothes you need stuff that your scholarship grants will not purchase make use of your scholarship money for tuition as well as your dorm if that’s permitted and employ your college fund that the parents or yourself has socked away.
This really is how to find college scholarship grants – you need to do it early and frequently, the greater you employ the more chances you’ve of having the scholarship, and also the earlier you’re doing so the less people within the pool to find the scholarship. You best your chances by using frequently and early.Don’t even think that there’s no scholarship grants available obtain the programs and fill them out. You will find a lot of scholarship grants available plus they are so varied.
It’s true that many these scholarship grants go unawarded each year simply because nobody requested them.This is among the only occasions inside your existence apart from your 401K that exist free money so make the most of it with college scholarship grants, educational funding, grants or loans, and bursaries.

Online Computer Science Degree Programs

Computer Science is really a program what is much more than creating a software program or computer. Computer Science differs from Computer-programming. Within this area you’re trained in most kind of ideas and programs. Online Computer Science Degree Programs will show you for that accurate scope within this profession. You ought to possess the perfect understanding on calculations. Within this program has accomplished great response in youth and also the exploration that certain will get through this area is uncountable to create a great career.

The program is really a technical subject but it’s not necessarily about computer. The Internet Computer Science Program introduces you using the interface of the profession. The course trains you using the work profile from the Computer Researcher. The pc researchers study making the codes, programs as well as keep operate in the pc memory that is addressed as bits or bytes. You ought to be perfect in most the mathematical concepts. Within this profession one discovers to identify the issue and be aware of proper solution onto it and solve it accordingly. Computer Science market is growing quickly and there’s magnitude enrollment within this area. The course trains you to definitely operate in an organised manner which will help to understand the abilities at quick speed.
Like a Computer Researcher one can be employed in the engineering area or researcher area. Within this area it trains you in Creating and planning the programs. Additionally, it trains you within the different techniques of utilizing computer like making cutting corners, making easy application for that customers etc… The course also will get you been trained in finding new techniques or processes to solve the issues or innovate something super easy which will cause less problem or not a problem.
Within this profession one needs to use technical abilities in addition to logical abilities. Within this area you ought to be very creative and critical thinker. You ought to be very spontaneous in taking choices but appropriate. You ought to be very alert in the work and really should always develop innovative ideas. You ought to have perfect understanding about all of the software programs, creating, technical background etc…
Computer Researcher is counted within the Engineering section. Planning and remodeling the applying or utilization of computer may be the primary work profile. Online Computer Science Degree Programs proves like a perfect guidance with this profession. It’s possible to earn good finance through this profession and lead having a blissful career.

Can the American College Experience be Replicated Abroad?

New York University recently established a campus in Abu Dhabi. Yale is currently creating a liberal arts college with the National University of Singapore. Duke University is even beginning to consider partnering with the city of Kunshan in China and Wuhan University. Are these new campuses the wave of the future, or have American schools been too quick to expand?

The many new American campuses sprouting up throughout China and abroad may make it appear as though there is a high demand amongst the local population to attend American colleges. However, a recent article in Inside Higher Ed (“If You Build It, They Might Not Come”) explains why universities should do more research before running to create campuses in foreign markets.

China Market Research Group studied the market for Western education in China on behalf of Duke University, and they discovered that Chinese students do not view Chinese branches of American colleges as equivalent to their US counterparts. In fact, only ten percent of students surveyed would be interested in Duke’s management studies program in China, and sixteen percent felt they would be more interested if a component of the degree was studying in the US for at least two months. A whopping thirty percent said they would be interested if half the program occurred in the US. The report explained: “While most families have the means to pay $41,000 USD [annually] for a graduate degree and would be willing to do so for a degree earned from a prestigious university in the U.S., none are willing to pay that much for a China-based Duke MMS degree.”

Duke is still planning on opening its campus in Kunshan in fall 2012 with the graduate Masters in Management Studies program and some undergraduate non-credit programs. However, if American universities consider the important lessons-learned from this study, we can anticipate more combined programs between American colleges and their campuses abroad in the future.

Accepted.comAccepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Life After College – Jenny Blake

Every once in a while, I invite cool people who have written books to share their knowledge with Personal MBA readers. Jenny is awesome, and her research and detailed templates will help you navigate the perils of daily life. I think you’ll enjoy her personal notes on the key ideas in Life After College. – Josh

About Jenny Blake
Jenny Blake is an author, blogger, life coach and sought-after speaker who helps others “Wake up, live big! and love the journey.” She has been featured on Forbes.com, US News & World Report, CNN.com and was recognized by Suze Orman as a leader among Gen Y.

Jenny started her blog, LifeAfterCollege.org, in 2005 and recently translated it into a popular book, Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want, which serves as a portable life coach for 20-somethings. Jenny recently took her own great leap by leaving Google after five and a half years at the company (on the Training, Career Development and Authors@Google teams) to pursue her passions full-time. Follow her on twitter @Jenny_Blake.

Here are ten big ideas from Jenny Blake’s Life After College:

1. Life: Your Big Picture

Don’t get bogged down by the “Tyranny of the Hows” for your biggest goals – get clear on your vision and values first. Your vision and values are your foundation – they will give you purpose and help you turn things around in your lowest, darkest moments.

Your vision and values give you wings when you’re laid out at the bottom of a dip, and your vision keeps you focused and clear when you have big decisions to make.

Related Templates:

2. Career/Work: If you are not (actively learning), you are obsolete.

We all know the old adage, “You learn something new every day.” Well, that’s not enough to get ahead. If you learn something new every day, it means you’re keeping up with everyone else. Looking for career security? Learn new skills. Become an expert in an area related to your field.

Companies must constantly evolve and innovate to stay ahead and continue making a profit. Just as the world and its technologies get more complex every day, you’ve got to actively learn and challenge yourself to stay ahead of the curve.

Related Template:

3. Money: Stop Clogging Your Financial Arteries

How conscious are you when it comes to spending money? How are your short-term habits contributing to your long-term goals? Are you clogging your financial arteries for the sake of fleeting indulgences? Make sure you have a clear understanding of exactly how much money is coming in and going out each month.

Detailed budgets are too cumbersome to be useful — focus on these three numbers instead: income, must-have expenses (groceries, rent, savings), and monthly nice-to-have expenses (going out to eat). Subtract the expenses from your income and you’ll get a “monthly allowance” for you to spend on discretionary items as you’d like, with the peace of mind of knowing that your main expenses are taken care of.

Related Templates:

4. Home: Shine your sink & clear your clutter

Flylady.net encourages her readers to do just one thing on a regular basis: shine your sinks. If you shine your sink (I suggest disposable disinfectant wipes), you’ll have a feeling of cleanliness, even if you don’t have time to spend the whole day scrubbing and vacuuming every crevice.

Beyond your sinks, what area of your house collects the most clutter? Feng shui experts say the state of order (or chaos) in our home often reflects our state of mind. Choose one area that needs the most work and dedicate two hours to giving it a complete overhaul. Watch as your mind follows suit after freeing up your space!

Related Templates:

  • Clean house, clear mind! Identify your most troublesome area so you can Clear Your Clutter

5. Systems and Organization: Let your systems (not your memory) do the heavy lifting to keep you organized.

True to David Allen’s advice in Getting Things Done, your brain is not an effective place to store information. Focus on creating systems that will help you automate (ex: bill-paying), store (ex: creating an idea file), file (ex: common labeling system across paper and electronic folders), and remind you of important dates or events (ex: email reminders and a calendaring system).

Related Templates:

6. Friends & Family: You can’t make everybody happy. So stop trying and start LIVING.

You can either go (emotionally) broke running around trying to please everyone, or you can spend your time creating, living and being authentic to your own needs and desires. The universe rewards backbone.

It pays off to stick up for yourself, to say the hard truth, and to make the hard choices about where to spend your time and attention. It pays off in sanity. Ease. Lightness. Sense of self. Confidence. Clarity. And cajones. You are no good to anyone if you run yourself ragged trying to please everyone.

Start with yourself so that you can give back (with gusto!) to those in your life who are worthy of your precious time, love and attention.

Related Templates:

  • Just graduated or living in a new area? Brainstorm ways to make new friends with the Meet Market template

7. Dating & Relationships: Stop auditioning for other people’s lives.

Life is like Tetris: You may be a “Z” when the other party is looking for an “I” — whether it comes to dating, job interviewing or business partnerships. No one is perfect, and life is a matching process. Look for situations in which you and the other party, given that you are both imperfect, bring something to the table. The matching process requires honesty to be successful, which involves taking risks.

It can be scary to put yourself out there and say “This is who I am. Take me or leave me, as I am.” It is scary because you are putting the real you out there to be accepted or rejected by the other party (and them by you). But it’s worth it – because when two parties are a fit, it works.

Related Template:

8. Health: Something is better than nothing.

Do you ever get that paralyzed feeling when you’re overwhelmed by so much to do that you freeze and don’t do anything? Perfection or bust? All or nothing? When you catch yourself falling prey to the perfectionist’s curse – the all or nothing, gung-ho or bust mentality – remember that SOMETHING is better than NOTHING.

Even if you only work out for 15 minutes a day, you will train your body to make fitness a part of your normal routine. Heck, even if all you did was put your workout clothes on, that’s a start!

Related Templates:

9. Fun and Relaxation: If you can dream it, you can do it!

A life coach once told me that — if you can dream it, you can do it. The same goes for your ideal day and your ideal life — sometimes we get so caught in the weeds reacting to errands and emails, that we forget to focus on what we really want to create in life.

Spend some time mapping out your ideal day (no limits!) and when you’re done, reflect on ways that you can start closing the gap between your current days and your ideal. It might start with 15 minutes tomorrow, or it might mean scheduling a long-overdue weekend getaway.

Related Templates:

10. Personal Growth: Identify who is on the committee in your brain.

This might be too woo woo for you, but many of us have a committee of voices contributing to any big decision. I recently made the difficult decision to quit Google after 5 years there to try my hand at solopreneurship, and it was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. The big discussion was between my Creative Director (the one concerned with me doing my best work) and my CFO (the one concerned with making financially sound decisions).

The bottom line: neither voice is right or wrong – they represent various concerns we have about different aspects of a decision. In the end, you — the CEO — have the final say, but you might feel better to ask each of your “committee members” what they need in order to feel comfortable moving forward.

Related Templates:

  • Wrestling with a big decision or paralyzed by fear? Document and work-through your concerns with the Decision-Making Template

About Life After College by Jenny Blake

An avid reader and information gopher, Jenny Blake has read over 150 business and personal development books, and have distilled their wisdom in a way that will leave you feeling inspired and ready to take action toward creating the life you really want. Instead of spending your money buying numerous books about setting goals, managing your finances and navigating your career, Jenny offers a “one stop shop” book, with short but powerful advice and exercises for every area of your life after college.

Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want is an essential manual for every graduating college student and twenty-something looking for direction. It provides practical, actionable advice and helps you focus on the big picture of your life – on your values and aspirations – all in a rapid-fire format. Chapter categories include life (values, goals), work, money, organization, home, friends & family, dating & relationships, health, fun & relaxation, and personal growth.

What Must an Educated Person Know?

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden, basketball coach
John Taylor Gatto, a renowned education historian and critic of modern industrial schooling, wrote an essay titled The Curriculum of Necessity or What Must an Educated Person Know? Here’s how the essay begins:

A few years back one of the schools at Harvard, perhaps the School of Government, issued some advice to its students on planning a career in the new international economy it believed was arriving. It warned sharply that academic classes and professional credentials would count for less and less when measured against real world training. Ten qualities were offered as essential to successfully adapting to the rapidly changing world of work. See how many of those you think are regularly taught in the schools of your city or state…

Here’s Harvard University’s list of skills that make an “educated person”:

  1. The ability to define problems without a guide.
  2. The ability to ask hard questions which challenge prevailing assumptions.
  3. The ability to quickly assimilate needed data from masses of irrelevant information.
  4. The ability to work in teams without guidance.
  5. The ability to work absolutely alone.
  6. The ability to persuade others that your course is the right one.
  7. The ability to conceptualize and reorganize information into new patterns.
  8. The ability to discuss ideas with an eye toward application.
  9. The ability to think inductively, deductively and dialectically.
  10. The ability to attack problems heuristically.

After listing these skills, Gatto continued:

You might be able to come up with a better list than Harvard did without surrendering any of these fundamental ideas, and yet from where I sit, and I sat around schools for nearly 30 years, I don’t think we teach any of these things as a matter of school policy… None of the schools I ever worked for were able to provide any important parts of this vital curriculum for children. All the schools I worked for taught nonsense up front. And under the table, they taught young people how to be dumb, how to be slavish, how to be frightened, and how to be dependent.

I found Harvard’s list fascinating. A while back, I drafted a list of this type my own post Do You Have These Core Human Skills?


Here’s my own list of “Core Human Skills”:

  1. Information-Assimilation – how to find, consume, and comprehend information and identify what’s most important in the face of a problem or challenge.
  2. Writing – how to communicate thoughts and ideas in written form clearly and concisely.
  3. Speaking – how to communicate thoughts and ideas to others clearly, concisely, and with confidence.
  4. Mathematics – how to accurately use concepts from arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics to analyze and solve common problems.
  5. Decision-Making – how to identify critical issues, prioritize, focus energy/effort, recognize fallacies, avoid common errors, and handle ambiguity.
  6. Rapport – how to interact with other people in a way that encourages them to like, trust, and respect you.
  7. Conflict-Resolution – how to anticipate potential sources of conflict and resolve disagreements when they occur.
  8. Scenario-Generation – how to create, clarify, evaluate, and communicate a possible future scenario that assists in decision-making, either for yourself or another person.
  9. Planning – how to identify the necessary next steps to achieve an objective, account for dependencies, and prepare for the unknown and inevitable change via the use of contingencies.
  10. Self-Awareness – how to accurately perceive and influence your own internal states and emotions, including effective management of limited energy, willpower, and focus.
  11. Interrelation – how to recognize, understand, and make use of key features of systems and relationships, including cause-and-effect, second and third-order effects, constraints, and feedback loops.
  12. Skill Acquisition – how to go about learning a desired skill in a way that results in competence by finding and utilizing available resources, deconstructing complex processes, and actively experimenting with potential approaches.

A bit of research led me search for other lists of “what an educated person must know.” Oliver Demille’s A Thomas Jefferson Education included Harvard’s list, in addition to two others.


Here’s Princeton University’s list of skills that make an “educated person”:

  1. The ability to think, speak, and write clearly.
  2. The ability to reason critically and systematically.
  3. The ability to conceptualize and solve problems.
  4. The ability to think independently.
  5. The ability to take initiative and work independently.
  6. The ability to work in cooperation with others and learn collaboratively.
  7. The ability to judge what it means to understand something thoroughly.
  8. The ability to distinguish the important from the trivial, the enduring from the ephemeral.
  9. Familiarity with the different modes of thought (including quantitative, historical, scientific, and aesthetic.)
  10. Depth of knowledge in a particular field.
  11. The ability to see connections among disciplines, ideas and cultures.
  12. The ability to pursue life long learning.


Here’s George Wyth College’s list of skills that make an “educated person”:

  1. The ability to understand human nature and lead accordingly.
  2. The ability to identify needed personal traits and turn them into habits.
  3. The ability to establish, maintain, and improve lasting relationships.
  4. The ability to keep one’s life in proper balance.
  5. The ability to discern truth and error regardless of the source or the delivery.
  6. The ability to discern true from right.
  7. The ability and discipline to do right.
  8. The ability and discipline to constantly improve.


There are four major lessons to learn from these lists:

  1. There’s a remarkably strong consensus from independent sources (inside and outside academia) about what it means to be an “educated” person. An “educated” person is one equipped to deal with most common life situations. Skills related to these areas are the skills that will be most useful throughout the course of life.
  2. “Education” is an ongoing process that is not synonymous with credentialing: credentialing programs almost universally skip teaching these “fuzzy” skills in favor of other skills that can be assessed more easily. “Education” does not end when schooling ends. The true test of these skills is how an individual responds in situations that call for them.
  3. Existing schooling / credentialing processes have little to no overlap with these major areas, and may actually be counterproductive, either by over-complicating the theory related to these skills or consuming time/attention in teaching areas unrelated to these skills. Current trends in credentialing are leading to less overlap in these areas over time, not more.
  4. If you intend to improve in each of these areas, you must invest time, energy, and resources learning these skills on your own. Investment in learning skills related to these areas is most likely to pay dividends in real-world situations, either in money or overall life satisfaction.

What are you practicing right now? What skills are you actively developing? Are these efforts contributing to your development as an “educated” person, or are they interfering?

The World University Rankings (2011-12)

again, and the Times Higher Education/Thomson Reuters World University Rankings (2011-2012) has just been released. The outcome is available here, and a screen grab of the Top 25 universities is available to the right. Link here for a pre-programmed Google News search for stories about the topic, and link here for Twitter-related items (caught via the #THEWUR hash tag).


Well, it’s ranking season
Polished up further after some unfortunate fall-outs from last year, this year’s outcome promises to give us an all improved, shiny and clean result. But is it?

Like many people in the higher education sector, we too are interested in the ranking outcomes, not that there are many surprises, to be honest.

Rather, what we’d like to ask our readers to reflect on is how the world university rankings debate is configured. Configuration elements include:

  • Ranking outcomes: Where is my university, or the universities of country X, Y, and Z, positioned in a relative sense (to other universities/countries; to peer universities/countries; in comparison to last year; in comparison to an alternative ranking scheme)?
  • Methods: Is the adopted methodology appropriate and effective? How has it changed? Why has it changed?
  • Reactions: How are key university leaders, or ministers (and equivalents) reacting to the outcomes?
  • Temporality: Why do world university rankers choose to release the rankings on an annual basis when once every four or five years is more appropriate (given the actual pace of change within universities)? How did they manage to normalize this pace?
  • Power and politics: Who is producing the rankings, and how do they benefit from doing so? How transparent are they themselves about their operations, their relations (including joint ventures), their biases, their capabilities?
  • Knowledge production: As is patently evident in our recent entry ‘Visualizing the uneven geographies of knowledge production and circulation,’ there is an incredibly uneven structure to the production of knowledge, including dynamics related to language and the publishing business. Given this, how do world university rankings (which factor in bibliometrics in a significant way) reflect this structural condition?
  • Governance matters: Who is governing whom? Who is being held to account, in which ways, and how frequently? Are the ranked capable of doing more than acting as mere providers of information (for free) to the rankers? Is an effective mechanism needed for regulating rankers and the emerging ranking industry? Do university leaders have any capability (none shown so far!) to collaborate on ranking governance matters?
  • Context(s): How do schemes like the THE’s World University Rankings, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), and the QS World University Rankings, relate to broader attempts to benchmark higher education systems, institutions, and educational and research practices or outcomes? And here we flag the EU’s new U-Multirank scheme, and the OECD’s numerous initiatives (e.g., AHELO) to evaluate university performance globally, as well as engender debate about benchmarking too. In short, are rankings like the ones just released ‘fit for purpose’ in genuinely shed light on the quality, relevance and efficiency of higher education in a rapidly-evolving global context?

The Top 400 outcomes will and should be debated, and people will be curious about the relative place of their universities in the ranked list, as well as about the welcome improvements evident in the THE/Thomson Reuters methodology. But don’t be invited into distraction and only focus on some of these questions, especially those dealing with outcomes, methods, and reactions.

Rather, we also need to ask more hard questions about power, governance, and context, not to mention interests, outcomes, and potential collateral damage to the sector (when these rankings are released and then circulate into national media outlets, and ministerial desktops). There is a political economy to world university rankings, and these schemes (all of them, not just the THE World University Rankings) are laden with power and generative of substantial impacts; impacts that the rankers themselves often do not hear about, nor feel (e.g., via the reallocation of resources).

Is it not time to think more broadly, and critically, about the big issues related to the great ranking seduction?

Kris Olds & Susan Robertson