This chapter has identified and discussed some of the contextual challenges the rankings process poses for institutions from different parts of the world. In discussing Spring’s (2008) interpretations of the process of educational globalisation, namely; ‘World Culture’, ‘World Systems’, ‘Post-colonialist’, and ‘Culturalist’ (Spring, 2008). This chapter has shown how ‘World System’ theory' and ‘Post-colonial’ analysis can explain how HEIs and higher education systems are stratified in accordance with their access to academic resources, and how convergence and divergence are produced simultaneously to respond to global forces that are based on the hegemonic force of the centres over the peripheries (Amove, 1980). As indicated by' Altbach (2004) almost all universities can be considered European in structure, organisation and concept meaning that the western model dominates international higher education and HEIs are not integrally linked to indigenous cultures.
We have also discussed the pressures on universities to achieve ‘World-class’ status which seems increasingly to be defined by a high ranking in one or more of the global HERS. This increasingly means that rankings can have an impact on national policy and expenditure as countries compete to establish elite institutions that perform highly in HERS. Rankings also inevitably influence the behaviour of higher education institutions because their presence in rankings heightens their national and international profile and reputation and this obliges universities to continuously improve or maintain their rank (Wint & Downing, 2017). Sometimes this pressure, and the constant attention from the media, is such that it leads to some institutions and individuals into the murky' waters of manipulating the ranking methodologies or gaming the HERS to achieve a higher rank. In some cases, this has inevitably led to exclusion from the various rankings exercises for a year or more and even more serious consequences for responsible staff and their managers.
Chapter 8 contributes to the international context discussed in this chapter by describing the forces of the global knowledge economy as a ‘push’ and ‘pull’ effect. The ‘push’ encapsulates the movement of the economy, higher education funding and academic (students and staff) mobility. The pull embodies contemporary political influences on the global knowledge economy, more specifically, changes emanating from the new governance structures in the US and the UK. The chapter argues that the impact of new administrations in both of these countries will continue to influence global higher education because the US and UK are still regarded as two of the most successful and influential global higher education providers. Chapters 7 and 8 together highlight the influences ranking participation exerts on countries, higher education institutions and responsible individuals from developed and developing nations.
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