Global university rankings have been with us since Shanghai Jiao Tong University started its list of the world’s best universities back in 2003. The annual rankings have struck fear into the hearts of many a university president, and transformed perceptions of higher education around the world.
Ireland is not the only European country to have been shocked to see its its institutions sliding downwards.
But while Ireland chose to maintain a high ratio of universities to population, often against expert advice, in continental Europe, the trend has been towards the consolidation of a few elite places of third level education.
Spurred on by the 2008 economic crisis, then French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked Michel Rocard and Alain Juppé, former prime ministers from the centre left and centre right, to write a blueprint for the reform of higher education in France.
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