global branding in education

Interesting piece, Global Branding and the Celebrity University, by Sheldon Rothblatt.

He focuses on universities, but some of the themes apply to schools and the broad educational context.

For universities to thrive in the global economy, they must be world class university brands.

A strong brand is required, not just for basic recognition and awareness, but to inform people’s perceptions of the university and its standing  in terms of teaching and research.

Some of these perceptions are created by global rankings (eg Times Higher Education, Shanghai, Quacquarelli Symonds).

In the ranking stakes, European universities lag behind US universities – only one (Oxford) is in Shanghai’s top ten, for example.

While ranking offers a necessarily limited perspective, it is highly influential.

But, because ranking methodologies tend to focus mainly on research outcomes and awards, they have an inbuilt weakness: they sideline some of the classic aims of university education – to develop intelligence, citizenship and cultural values in students.

As such, rankings give little insight – or, if so, a distorted view – into the learning experience that students will have at a given university, which is the most important aspect driving their choice of which university to attend.

In building world-class educational brands, therefore, it is important to take the wider view and to achieve a balance between learning and teaching.