U21 Symposium - National Systems of Higher Education: Criteria for Evaluation

Start Date
06 November 2013
End Date
07 November 2013
Regal International East Asia Hotel
Shanghai, China
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The inaugural National Systems of Higher Education Symposium will take place from 6-7 November 2013 at the Regal International East Asia Hotel in Shanghai, China.

Programme Outline

Wednesday 6 November

19:00 - 21:00 Welcome Reception

Thursday 7 November

09:00 - 17:00 Symposium

A detailed programme of Thursday's event can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Event Overview

The first of the annual Ranking of National Higher Education Systems reports was published in May 2012 by Universitas 21.  The second report was published in May 2013. Both reports can be found here:


 The project has been welcomed by a number of commentators as promoting a broader discussion on what are the desirable characteristics of national systems of education, which may vary according to stages of economic development.   The aim of the Symposium is 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 will follow this breakdown of characteristics of a national system.  Issues to be covered include:

  • 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 economic development?

The Symposium will comprise addresses by invited speakers with ample time for discussion from the floor.  The Symposium will conclude 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


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.


There is no registration fee but places are limited and will be processed in order of acceptance to attend.  

How To Register

Hotel Accommodation

Delegates are responsible for booking their own hotel accommodation. A block of rooms have been reserved, with a favourable group rate, at the Conference venue: Regal International East Asia Hotel.


To book your room at the reduced rate, please download and complete the Hotel Booking Form pdf at the bottom of this page, and email it to contact provided at the top of the form. Please note that the accommodation booking form is the same as for the 5th International Conference on World Class Universities. 



Professor Ross Williams