2013 U21 Rankings Symposium

The first U21 Symposium on National Systems of Higher Education was held from 6-7 November 2013 in Shanghai.


The U21 Symposium - National Systems of Higher Education: Criteria for Evaluation - was closely linked with the annual Ranking of National Higher Education Systems, which has been published by Universitas 21 since 2012. Both the 2012 and 2013 Reports can be viewed by following the link below:

The Rankings project has been welcomed by a number of commentators as promoting a broader discussion on the desirable characteristics of national systems of education, which may vary according to stages of economic development. The aim of the Symposium was to progress this debate. 

In the U21 Ranking Reports the attributes of a national system are grouped under four headings: Resources, Environment, Connectivity and Output. The Symposium followed this breakdown of characteristics of a national system and covered the following issues:

  • What are the best regulatory and policy settings?
  • How are resources best allocated between institutions and between activities (teaching at various levels and research)?
  • What is the optimum balance between the number of world class universities and other higher education institutions?
  • What sorts of connectivity with the rest of society and internationally matter? 
  • How do we measure output of the system as a whole?
  • How might the desirable characteristics vary with levels of econo

The Symposium comprised addresses by invited speakers with questions from the floor and concluded with a panel discussion.

Symposium Speakers 

Professor Ross Williams, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, Australia

What have we learned from two years of U21 ranking and benchmarking?

Professor Christine Ennew, Provost and Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus

Resources, Reputation and Ranking: What are the Drivers?

Dr John Douglass, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley, USA

Considering the Flagship University Model: A Proposal for Changing the Paradigm from Ranking to Relevancy

Professor Ihron Rensburg, Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

National Priorities and Global Stature: At Odds or in Sync? A View from the Global South

Professor Robert Tijssen, Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden University, The Netherlands

Measuring University-Industry Research Connectivity: Within and Across National Systems of Higher Education

Dr Benoit Millot, Former World Bank Lead Education Economist

Rankings: Universities vs. National Higher Education Systems

Dr Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic, Senior Advisor International Affairs, US Council for Higher Education Accreditation and Sir John Daniel, Education Master, Knowledge Media Unit, De Tao, Masters Academy, China.            

Rankings of Higher Education Systems: The Challenge of Change

Symposium Panellists

Professor Ross Williams, Melbourne Institute, University of Melbourne (Chair)

Professor Ellen Hazelkorn, Director of the Higher Education Policy Unit, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

Dr Jan Sadlak, President, IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence

Associate Professor Hamish Coates, University of Melbourne

Details of all speakers can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

A full event report, all presentations and some of the papers from the Symposium can be downloaded below: