A Former Student Remembers Paul Rabinow

There was this one time, during my senior year at UC Berkeley, I showed up to Anthropology of the Contemporary about a half-hour early. It was held in one of the Anthro department conference rooms — the larger one, where the AUA meetings were held, at the intersection of the hall near the waiting room and the bathrooms. The door was usually locked, but that day it stood open a crack. I remember lingering outside for a moment, listening to hear if there was a meeting or some event going on inside. But it was silent, and so I let my guard down and pushed it open. There, alone, at the head of the room sat Paul Rabinow. You might think it shouldn’t have been a surprise — it was his class, after all (even if he hardly got around to handing out the syllabus). But facing him there in the low-lit room, alone, waiting, still took me aback. And that was before I realized I was about to have to try to impress the unimpressible for the next half-hour, before class would begin.

I didn’t know Paul Rabinow — or “Rainbow”, as he sometimes referred to himself, having must have beared the student mispronunciations for decades — very well, in a personal sense (outside school, i.e.). But today I read, on Berkeley’s student paper The Daily Californian, that he has died. However, I will say that I certainly remember him, that I learned a lot from him, and that I think of him often. Thus, I felt compelled to write something of what I remember of him, as a former undergrad student of his.

I don’t remember every detail of our pre-class conversation that day I showed up early. But I do remember a couple things, including the general topic: Wittgenstein. That semester I happened to also be taking Barry Stroud’s course on Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations (Stroud’s final offering of that course, as it would turn out). So Wittgenstein was an acute topic for me, and besides, I was also majoring in philosophy and — like all undergrad philosophy majors — I liked to bring up the fact that I was doing so as often as possible. I don’t know how I introduced the topic, but I remember that it came up quite easily, and didn’t need to be forced at all. Rainbow listened, attentive, genuinely interested — perhaps not so much in my thoughts about Wittgenstein, but in me as a student, in me as someone who was also genuinely interested (he gave me the impression he must have listened to all of his students in this way). After I was finished saying whatever it was I said, Rainbow told me his own thoughts about Wittgenstein. I wish I could remember what those were, altogether, but what I remember is his final gist: that Wittgenstein had some interesting things to say, but that he ultimately “…left me cold” (his words). This was particularly interesting to me, because I felt I sort of understood what he meant, but I wasn’t sure why I understood — as I didn’t share the feeling.

But, what was it that didn’t leave Rainbow cold? These are the things I most remember from class, and the things I often pass on to other people, and which I always attribute to Rainbow.

One of these things was an early assignment we had that semester: to read Bertolt Brecht’s Writing the Truth, Five Difficulties. Written in 1935, amid a gathering fascism, this paper sets out — in stark terms — what it takes to really write something, with conviction. When I first read this, I found it very frustrating. I kept asking myself, “But what does Brecht mean by ‘the truth’?” My contribution to the class discussion on this (Rainbow always held the classes seminar-style) were probably quite meek, mostly because I didn’t really have much insight into what was going on in the paper, since I’d set myself the trouble of “not being able to understand what Brecht means by ‘the truth'”. But nowadays — and during the latter part of Trump’s reign — this was a go-to, must-read, gotta-send-you sort of piece that I would reference often. It might’ve taken me a while to get around to understanding it, and I had ample assistance from the material circumstances of the world which made it impossible to avoid. It’s a good thing we had Rainbow, or else it would have been possible to avoid.

Another of these things was Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. Rainbow used to call us “barbarians”. He used to say that we didn’t even know what that word meant (it turned out he was using the word literally, as the ancient Greeks did, to refer to those who weren’t versed in Greek language and custom). It seemed to bring him a glint of joy to watch us struggle, in our “barbarian” way, to string together connections between the seemingly disparate things he decided to talk about on any given day. Coriolanus was a disparate thing. I wasn’t taken with Coriolanus (or Shakespeare — little did Rainbow know I’d written a screed in high school triumphantly declaring Shakespeare as definitively boring), but I did notice that I found it impressive in some way that we were focusing on Coriolanus — of all Shakespeare plays. And then I thought, for the first time, as we watched a YouTube video of a performance of the scene with the rotted fens, that there was really some pretty good writing going on. It was for that spark of interest that I, the disinterested, went out and bought a copy of Coriolanus the semester afterward. It’s a good thing we had Rainbow, or else Shakespeare would be boring yet.

The last of these things I’ll share here is Max Weber’s Science as a Vocation. Weber was the kind of theorist that I really didn’t care to hear about at that time in my academic life. By then I had disavowed all the anthropology I’d ever studied — it was the final class I needed for the major, after all. I’d shifted to philosophy to get away from just that kind of continental thing. Here, again, I found myself with the sort of frustrations I’d had with Brecht’s work earlier in the course. What does Weber mean? What’s the point of this? Here, too, as with Brecht, my own contributions to the class discussion were limited. What interest could all this comparison of American and German universities really have for me? I kept thinking about the “conceptual grounds” of the piece. I kept analyzing it in abstract terms: how does someone hold to conducting research knowing they probably won’t be recognized or remembered for it? How do they go on knowing they’ll be surpassed eventually; when it won’t even matter in the long run? e.g. I always got that it was supposed to be about something practical, and I always identified with having — perhaps not science — but academics as a vocation, but I would only come to really get the drift later on. My academic plans back then resemble in almost no way my academic present. The course that took me from 2017 Berkeley to 2021 Helsinki was foreseen in no way, but it forced on me what it means when academics is your vocation — no longer a conceptual thing to-be-understood, but an unavoidable, practical, material circumstance. This was what Weber was really talking about, I thought to myself, and this is how Rainbow wanted to prepare us. I’ve thought back to this orientation point many times since that class, and that it’s a good thing we had Rainbow.

Now I think I have a better idea why I understood what Rainbow meant when he said Wittgenstein left him cold, despite my feeling differently: it’s because Rainbow made me, and us, pay genuine attention, in the way that he did. I couldn’t help but understand, in other words. This is what it was to have Rainbow as a teacher. His teaching method was to impart emulationnot so that we’d end up being little Rainbows, but so that we would learn the feel then, even as barbarian undergrads, what it is to write the truth, what it is to string together the connections, what it is to bear our vocations — and to do these things despite the myriad, disagreeing, conflicting, disparate difficulties they impose, both from within and without. In that way, to give us the experience to help us become ourselves. And that’s really what the best teachers are supposed to do. I am truly thankful to have had the opportunity to be a student of Professor Paul Rabinow, and to have been imparted with these thoughts because of him — whether I really “understand” what Brecht et al. meant or not. The world will have less truth in it now, so it’s all the more important — especially for those of us privileged enough to have had a class with him — to remember Rainbow and the truths he wrote and lived. I certainly do.

Now I understand why Rainbow thought the idea of handing out a syllabus was so laughable. Or as he once remarked to the class, shooting me a sly grin, “Do you think Wittgenstein had to worry about the syllabus?”

Steven N. McGannon

HELSINKI, Finland

*This article has been edited several times since I published it. In some cases, there were minor errors, in others, I wanted to make a point clearer, and so I added in or changed a sentence here and there.

Permalink to this article: https://snmcgannon.com/2021/04/12/remembering-paul-rabinow/

Ranking of Public Universities Worldwide, 2020-21

University of California, Berkeley.
RankInstitutionARWUQSTHEUSNWRAverage World Rank
1University of California, Berkeley 🇺🇸5307411.5
2ETH Zürich 🇨🇭206142616.5
3University of California, Los Angeles 🇺🇸1336151319.25
4University of Michigan 🇺🇸2221221720.5
5University of Toronto 🇨🇦 2325181720.75
6Tsinghua University 🇨🇳 2915202823
7University of Washington 🇺🇸 167229831.25
8University of California, San Diego 🇺🇸1854332131.5
9University of Melbourne 🇦🇺 3541312533
10Peking University 🇨🇳 4923235136.5
11University of British Columbia 🇨🇦 3845343137
12University of Tokyo 🇯🇵 2624367339.75
13University of Wisconsin – Madison 🇺🇸 3265494146.75
14=LMU Munich 🇩🇪 5163324648
14=University of Sydney 🇦🇺 7440512748
16University of Texas at Austin 🇺🇸 4171443848.5
17=Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) 🇨🇭8314435849.5
17=University of Queensland 🇦🇺5446623649.5
19McGill University 🇨🇦 7831405150
20=Heidelberg University 🇩🇪 5764425454.25
20=University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 🇺🇸 3095563654.25
22=Australian National University 🇦🇺6731596455.25
22=Technical University of Munich 🇩🇪5450417655.25
24University of Copenhagen 🇩🇰 3376843456.75
25University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 🇺🇸 4582486058.75
26University of New South Wales 🇦🇺 7444675159
27Kyoto University 🇯🇵 34385412562.75
28=Monash University 🇦🇺8555644863
28=Sorbonne University 🇫🇷3983874363
30University of Zürich 🇨🇭5669736265
31University of Amsterdam 🇳🇱 10161664067
32Georgia Institute of Technology 🇺🇸 10180386671.25
33=Chinese University of Hong Kong 🇭🇰 10143569573.75
33=University of Hong Kong 🇭🇰15122398373.75
35Utrecht University 🇳🇱 52121755475.5
36University of California, Santa Barbara 🇺🇸 49152685681.25
37Seoul National University 🇰🇷 101376012981.75
38Shanghai Jiao Tong University 🇨🇳 634710012283
39University of California, Davis 🇺🇸 91112646683.25
40Ohio State University 🇺🇸 101108804583.5
41Purdue University 🇺🇸 79109945383.75
42Zhejiang University 🇨🇳 58539413585
43University of Minnesota 🇺🇸 40177854787.25
44University of Maryland, College Park 🇺🇸 53152906088.75
45University of Helsinki 🇫🇮74104988690.5
46=Fudan University 🇨🇳 100347016091
46=Leiden University 🇳🇱80128708691
48University of Groningen 🇳🇱 69128809292.25
49University of Science and Technology of China 🇨🇳73938712494.25
50Ghent University 🇧🇪 661351038597.25

This is a ranking of the top 50 public universities in the world ranked relative to each other by average world rank for the year 2020-2021. A “public university” is a university which is (1) publicly funded and (2) publicly owned. Thus, for example, no U.K. universities are eligible for this list.

The ranking was created by using metadata sourced from the four prominent rankings of world universities (each ranking released in 2020): Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education (THE), and U.S. News & World Report (USNWR).

Rank was checked on each list for every public university in the world ranked on each of the lists. Then, for each university, all its rank placements were averaged across lists to create the new list of average ranking for each university. The universities were then ranked according to their average ranking. The university with the highest average is thus ranked 1st, the one with the second highest average 2nd, and so on. 

Finally, the results were tabled, as shown above. The leftmost column shows the final relative placement (relative placement based on average rank, i.e.), the “institution” column shows the institution ranked along with the flag of the country in which it is located, the next four rightward columns (ARWU, QS, THE, USNWR) show the rank for each given institution in each of those selected world rankings, and the rightmost column (“Average World Rank”) averages the four ranking lists’ rank placement for each university. 

Some observations —

  • All of the top 50 public universities in the world rank on average within the top 100 universities — public or private — in the world.
  • There are 14 countries represented on the list.
  • The 1st most represented region is North America, with 19 universities.
  • The 2nd most represented region is Europe, with 14 universities.
  • The 3rd most represented region is Asia, with 11 universities.
  • The 4th most represented region is Oceania, with 6 universities.
  • The 1st most represented country overall is the U.S., with 16 universities.
  • The 2nd most represented countries overall are Australia and China, each with 6 universities.
  • The 3rd most represented country overall is the Netherlands, with 4 universities.
  • The next most represented countries are in order as follows: Canada and Switzerland (each with 3), Hong Kong and Japan (each with 2), and Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, and South Korea (each with 1).
  • The most represented countries within the top 10 are the U.S. (with 5) and China (with 2).
  • The list which best predicts the summed average is USNWR.
  • The list which worst predicts the summed average is QS.

If anything appears to be in error, please email me at tuulifunctional@snmcgannon.com.

Permalink to this article: https://snmcgannon.com/2021/03/15/ranking-of-public-universities-worldwide-2020-21/

This article’s header photograph depicting UC Berkeley is under the Creative Commons license.

Ranking of Universities in the Benelux Union, 2020-21

This is a ranking of the top 20 universities in the Benelux Union ranked relative to each other by average world rank for the year 2020-2021. 

The ranking was created by using metadata sourced from the four prominent rankings of world universities (each ranking released in 2020): Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education (THE), and U.S. News & World Report (USNWR).

Rank was checked on each list for every Benelux Union university ranked on any each of the lists. Then for each university all its rank placements were averaged across lists to create the new list of average ranking for each university. The universities were then ranked according to their average ranking. The university with the highest average is thus ranked 1st, the one with the second highest average 2nd, and so on. 

Finally, the results were tabled, and are shown below (Table 1.). The leftmost column shows the final relative placement (relative placement based on average rank, i.e.), the “institution” column shows the institution ranked along with the flag of the country in which it is located, the next four rightward columns (ARWU, QS, THE, USNWR) show the rank for each given institution in each of those selected world rankings, and the rightmost column (“Average World Rank”) averages the four ranking lists’ rank placement for each university. 

Some observations —

  • The original ranking which best predicts the summed average is USNWR.
  • The original ranking which most poorly predicts the summed average is THE.
  • No university in Luxembourg places in the top 20 Benelux Union universities.

If anything appears to be in error, please email me at tuulifunctional@snmcgannon.com.

Ranking of Universities in the Benelux Union, 2020-21

RankInstitutionARWUQSTHEUSNWRAverage World Rank
1University of Amsterdam 🇳🇱10161664067
2KU Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven) 🇧🇪9784454868.5
3Utrecht University 🇳🇱52121755475.5
4Leiden University 🇳🇱80128708691
5University of Groningen 🇳🇱69128809292.25
6Ghent University 🇧🇪661351038597.25
7Wageningen University & Research 🇳🇱1511156283102.75
8Erasmus University Rotterdam 🇳🇱801977268104.25
9Delft University of Technology 🇳🇱1515778172114.5
10Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 🇳🇱10123611680133.25
11Radboud University Nijmegen 🇳🇱101214136103138.5
12Catholic University of Louvain 🇧🇪151189164148163
13Maastricht University 🇳🇱201234121189186.25
14Université libre de Bruxelles 🇧🇪101250201202188.5
15University of Antwerp 🇧🇪301238170212230.25
16Vrije Universiteit Brussel 🇧🇪301200251271255.75
17Eindhoven University of Technology 🇳🇱401120187349264.25
18University of Twente 🇳🇱401197201390297.25
19University of Liege 🇧🇪201451351370343.25
20Tilburg University 🇳🇱601368201490415
Table 1.

Permalink: https://snmcgannon.com/2021/02/15/ranking-of-universities-in-the-benelux-union-2020-21/

Header image is under Creative Commons. Link to license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

Ranking of Universities in the German-speaking World, 2020-21

Published Feb. 13, 2021 by S. N. McGannon

This is a ranking of the top 20 universities in the German-speaking world ranked relative to each other by average world rank for the year 2020-2021. In this ranking the “German-speaking world” is defined as being constituted by the following countries: Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. Also, this ranking is for universities in the German-speaking world. Thus, even a university whose primary instruction language is not German (ala University of Geneva) is ranked so long as it is physically located within the German-speaking world.

The ranking was created by using metadata sourced from the four prominent rankings of world universities (each ranking released in 2020): Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education (THE), and U.S. News & World Report (USNWR).

Rank was checked on each list for every university in the German-speaking world ranked on all the lists. Then for each university all its rank placements were averaged across lists to create the new list of average ranking for each university. The universities were then ranked according to their average ranking. The university with the highest average is thus ranked 1st, the one with the second highest average 2nd, and so on. 

Finally, the results were tabled, and are shown below (Table 1.). The leftmost column shows the final relative placement (relative placement based on average rank, i.e.), the “institution” column shows the institution ranked along with the flag of the country in which it is located, the next four rightward columns (ARWU, QS, THE, USNWR) show the rank for each given institution in each of those selected world rankings, and the rightmost column (“Average World Rank”) averages the four ranking lists’ rank placement for each university. 

Please note: Due to historical disputes regarding Nobel prize attribution between Free University of Berlin and Humboldt University of Berlin, neither university appears on ARWU’s ranking. However, both universities rank within the top 130 universities in the world (and even as high as 80) on all the other rankings. Thus, I personally feel this ranking would not adequately represent the top universities in the German-speaking world without these two universities. However, as I could not average their placement between the four rankings, and whereas all other universities appearing on the list could be averaged by placement across all four rankings (as I’ve sometimes waved the requirement that a university rank on all four lists if universities are lacking for that particular list), I have chosen to list Humboldt University of Berlin and Free University of Berlin with their average across the three rankings on which they appear — QS, THE, and USNWR — as unranked in my relative metaranking, but, as ranked in the “Average World Rank” column and thereby placed among the other universities accordingly within my relative ranking (i.e. where they would appear were their average world rank sufficient to rank them). So, Humboldt University of Berlin appears after 6th-place University of Zurich and before 7th-place University of Geneva for the reason that its average world rank (based on those three rankings in which it is ranked) lies between the two. The same procedure has been applied for Free University of Berlin. In this regard, ‘(NR)‘ appears on the list and means “not ranked”.

Some observations —

  • The original ranking which best predicts the summed average is ARWU.
  • The original ranking which most poorly predicts the summed average is THE.
  • The worst prediction is QS’s University of Bonn 240 — 101.25 places greater than its 138.75 average.
  • No list predicts the top 10.
  • The only university to make the list not located in Germany or Switzerland is University of Vienna (Austria).

If anything appears to be in error, please email me at tuulifunctional@snmcgannon.com.

Ranking of Universities in the German-speaking World, 2020-21

RankInstitutionARWUQSTHEUSNWRAverage World Rank
1ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich) 🇨🇭206142616.5
2LMU Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) 🇩🇪5163324648
3Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne)🇨🇭8314435849.5
4Heidelberg University (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg) 🇩🇪5764425454.25
5Technical University of Munich (Technische Universität München) 🇩🇪5450417655.25
6University of Zurich (Universität Zürich) 🇨🇭5669736265
(NR)Humboldt University of Berlin (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) 🇩🇪(NR)117808293
7University of Geneva (Université de Genève)🇨🇭5910614996102.5
8University of Bern (Universität Bern)🇨🇭101114109107107.75
9University of Basel (Universität Basel)🇨🇭8814992131115
(NR)Free University of Berlin (Freie Universität Berlin) 🇩🇪(NR)130118111~120
10University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) 🇩🇪10117583168131.75
11University of Bonn (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn) 🇩🇪87240114114138.75
12=University of Tübingen (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen) 🇩🇪15117578180146
12=University of Göttingen (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen) 🇩🇪101195130158146
14RWTH Aachen University (Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen) 🇩🇪201145107184159.25
15University of Lausanne (Université de Lausanne)🇨🇭101169191189162.5
16University of Vienna (Universität Wien) 🇦🇹151150164195165
17Dresden University of Technology (Technische Universität Dresden) 🇩🇪201173152186178
18University of Hamburg (Universität Hamburg) 🇩🇪201228135155179.75
19Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie) 🇩🇪201131201197182.5
20University of Cologne (Universität zu Köln) 🇩🇪151282145232202.5
Table 1.

Permalink to this article: https://snmcgannon.com/2021/02/12/ranking-of-universities-in-the-german-speaking-world-2020-21/(opens in a new tab)

Ranking of Public Universities in the United States, 2020-21

This is a ranking of the top 20 public universities in the United States ranked relative to each other by average world rank for the year 2020-2021. 

The ranking was created by using metadata sourced from the four prominent rankings of world universities (each ranking released in 2020): Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education (THE), and U.S. News & World Report (USNWR).

Rank was checked on each list for every public university in the United States ranked on all the lists. Then for each university all its rank placements were averaged across lists to create the new list of average ranking for each university. The universities were then ranked according to their average ranking. The university with the highest average is thus ranked 1st, the one with the second highest average 2nd, and so on. 

Finally, the results were tabled, and are shown below (Table 1.). The leftmost column shows the final relative placement (relative placement based on average rank, i.e.), the “institution” column shows the institution ranked, the next four rightward columns (ARWU, QS, THE, USNWR) show the rank for each given institution in each of those selected world rankings, and the rightmost column (“Average World Rank”) averages the four ranking lists’ rank placement for each university.

Some observations —

  • The original ranking which best predicts the summed average is THE.
  • The original ranking which most poorly predicts the summed average is QS.
  • The worst prediction is QS’s UC Irvine at 210 — 96.25 places greater than its 113.75 average.
  • 30% of the top 20 public universities in the United States are California universities.
  • The two states which have the highest percentage of top 20 public universities in the United States (at 2 universities each; i.e., 10% each) after California are Michigan (Michigan, Michigan State) and Pennsylvania (Penn State, Pittsburgh).
  • All but 3 universities of the top 20 public universities in the United States average in the top 100 universities — public or private — in the world.

If anything appears to be in error, please email me at tuulifunctional@snmcgannon.com.

Ranking of Public Universities in the United States, 2020-21

RankInstitutionARWUQSTHEUSNWRAverage World Rank
1Berkeley 5307411.5
2UCLA 1336151319.25
3Michigan 2221221720.5
4University of Washington 167229831.25
5UC San Diego 1854332131.5
6Wisconsin – Madison 3265494146.75
7Texas at Austin 4171443848.5
8North Carolina at Chapel Hill 3095563654.25
9Illinois at Urbana-Champaign4582486058.75
10Georgia Tech10180386671.25
11UC Santa Barbara 49152685681.25
12UC Davis 91112646683.25
13Ohio State 101108804583.5
14Minnesota40177854787.25
15Maryland, College Park53152906088.75
16Penn State 1011011147597.75
17Purdue791099411499
18Pittsburgh 9615613343107
19UC Irvine 692109878113.75
20Michigan State 101157105100115.75
Table 1.

Permalink to this article: https://snmcgannon.com/2021/02/12/ranking-of-public-universities-in-the-united-states-2020-21/

*The cover image used in this article (depicting UC Berkeley) is under the Creative Commons license. All efforts were made to give appropriate credit. If someone determines authorship, this information will be updated accordingly. The image was cropped slightly for this header. Link to license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Ranking of Universities in the United States, 2020-21

This is a ranking of the top 20 universities in the United States ranked relative to each other by average world rank for the year 2020-2021.

The ranking was created by using metadata sourced from the four prominent rankings of world universities (each ranking released in 2020): Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education (THE), and U.S. News & World Report (USNWR).

Rank was checked on each list for every university in the United States ranked on all the lists. Then for each university all its rank placements were averaged across lists to create the new list of average ranking for each university. The universities were then ranked according to their average ranking. The university with the highest average is thus ranked 1st, the one with the second highest average 2nd, and so on. 

Finally, the results were tabled, and are shown below (Figure 1). The leftmost column shows the final relative placement (relative placement based on average rank, i.e.), the “institution” column shows the institution ranked, the next four rightward columns (ARWU, QS, THE, USNWR) show the rank for each given institution in each of those selected world rankings, and the rightmost column (“Average World Rank”) averages the four ranking lists’ rank placement for each university. A “=” next to a rank indicates a tied position.

Some observations —

  • The original ranking which best predicts the summed average is THE.
  • The original ranking which most poorly predicts the summed average is QS.
  • The worst prediction is QS’s University of Washington at 72 — approximately 41 places away from its average of 31.25.
  • The most agreed upon rank is Stanford, with ARWU, QS, and THE all ranking it 2nd.
  • 20% of the top 20 universities in the U.S. are California universities (Stanford, Caltech, Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego).

If anything appears to be in error, please email me at tuulifunctional@snmcgannon.com.

Ranking of Universities in the United States, 2020-21

RankInstitutionARWUQSTHEUSNWRAverage World Rank
1Harvard13312
2Stanford22232.25
3MIT41523
4Caltech84475.75
5Princeton6129119.5
6Chicago109101511
7Berkeley5307411.5
8Yale111781111.75
9Columbia71917612.25
10=UPenn1916131415.5
10=Johns Hopkins1525121015.5
12Cornell1218192217.75
13UCLA1336151319.25
14Michigan2221221720.5
15Northwestern3029242426.75
16Duke2742202328
17NYU2735262929.25
18University of Washington167229831.25
19UC San Diego1854332131.5
20UW-Madison3265494146.75
Figure 1.

Permalink to this article: https://snmcgannon.com/2021/02/11/ranking-of-universities-in-the-united-states-2020-21/

*The US flag image used in this article is under the Creative Commons license.

Ranking of Universities in the non-English Speaking World, 2020-21

This is a ranking of the top 25 universities in the non-English speaking world ranked relative to each other by average world rank for the year 2020. In this ranking the “non-English speaking world” is defined as all countries excluding the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The ranking was created by using metadata sourced from the four prominent rankings of world universities (each ranking released in 2020): Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education (THE), and U.S. News & World Report (USNWR).

Rank was checked on each list for every university in the non-English speaking world ranked on all the lists. Then for each university all its rank placements were averaged across lists to create the new list of average ranking for each university. The universities were then ranked according to their average ranking. The university with the highest average is thus ranked 1st, the one with the second highest average 2nd, and so on.

Finally, the results were tabled, and are shown below (Figure 1). The leftmost column shows the final relative placement (relative placement based on average rank, i.e.), the “institution” column shows the institution ranked along with the flag of the country in which it is located, the next four rightward columns (ARWU, QS, THE, USNWR) show the rank for each given institution in each of those selected world rankings, and the rightmost column (“Average World Rank”) averages the four ranking lists’ rank placement for each university.

Some observations —

  • No list predicts the top 10.
  • Every list predicts ETH Zurich as 1st.
  • Germany is the most represented country in the top 10, with 3 universities.
  • China is the most represented country overall, with 5 universities.
  • No university outside Europe, China, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong or South Korea makes the list.

Finally, I want to note that Karolinska Institute (Sweden) averages 43 — good for 6th — between ARWU, THE, and USNWR. However, it is unranked by QS, and is thus left off the ranking. Additionally, Paris Sciences et Lettres University (France) averages ~44 — good for 6th (or 7th if Karolinska Institute is included) — between ARWU, QS, and THE. However, it is unranked by USNWR (though some of its subdivisions are, strangely, individually ranked), and is thus also left off the ranking.

If anything appears to be in error, please email me at tuulifunctional@snmcgannon.com.

Ranking of Universities in the non-English Speaking World, 2020-21

RankInstitutionARWUQSTHEUSNWRAverage World Rank
1ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich)🇨🇭206142616.5
2Tsinghua University (清华大学) 🇨🇳 2915202823
3Peking University (北京大学) 🇨🇳4923235136.5
4National University of Singapore 🇸🇬 8011253237
5University of Tokyo (東京大学) 🇯🇵 2624367339.75
6Nanyang Technological University 🇸🇬 9113473847.25
7LMU Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) 🇩🇪5163324648
8Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne)🇨🇭8314435849.5
9Heidelberg University (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg) 🇩🇪5764425454.25
10Technical University of Munich (Technische Universität München) 🇩🇪5450417655.25
11University of Copenhagen (Københavns Universitet) 🇩🇰 3376843456.75
12Kyoto University (京都大学) 🇯🇵34385412562.75
13Sorbonne University (Sorbonne Université) 🇫🇷3983874363
14University of Zurich (Universität Zürich)🇨🇭5669736265
15University of Amsterdam (Universiteit van Amsterdam) 🇳🇱10161664067
16Catholic University of Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven) 🇧🇪9784454868.5
17University of Hong Kong (香港大學) 🇭🇰15122398373.75
17Chinese University of Hong Kong (香港中文大學) 🇭🇰10143569573.75
19Utrecht University (Universiteit Utrecht) 🇳🇱52121755475.5
20Seoul National University (서울대학교) 🇰🇷101376012981.75
21Shanghai Jiao Tong University (上海交通大学) 🇨🇳634710012283
22Zhejiang University (浙江大学) 🇨🇳58539413585
23University of Helsinki (Helsingin yliopisto) 🇫🇮74104988690.5
24Leiden University (Universiteit Leiden) 🇳🇱80128708691
24Fudan University (复旦大学) 🇨🇳100347016091
Figure 1.

Permalink to this article: https://snmcgannon.com/2021/02/09/ranking-of-universities-in-the-non-english-speaking-world-2020-21/

Universities Should Pay to Bring International Students to Campus During the Coronavirus Pandemic

How can newly-matriculated international students secure the funds necessary to cover would-be additional costs during the COVID-19 pandemic?”

By S N McGannon

July 9, 2020

In my recent article (which you can read here) I suggest measures governments can implement to open up their countries to newly matriculated international students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the measures I suggest would require such students to have access to significant monetary funds at short notice. If the international students themselves had to shoulder the burden of such costs — on top of the exorbitant fees already demanded of them as international students — then the requirements I’ve outlined would be prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of them. However, I think there is a simple and obvious solution to this would-be problem, and that is what I’m going to talk about today.

The question: how can international students secure the funds necessary to cover the costs for any additional measures governments would implement to ensure those students could reach their universities during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The answer: universities ought to cover all such costs. 

Actually (and this is my real answer), governments ought to cover all costs for studies — including tuition — regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic — but that’s a topic for another time. For now, I’ll assume governments don’t have any interest in paying extra fees to bring international students to their country and, this being the case, I will stick by arguing that universities themselves ought to cover all such costs — qualification to follow.

First, to elaborate on what it is universities should cover the cost of: (1) the exit flight fund, (2) quarantine accommodations, (3) fulfilling the requirement to undergo video conference identification — including any incurred by travel, hardware, or software required, and (4) fulfilling the requirement to secure any COVID-19 tests whether before or after arrival or both— including any incurred by travel or time off work.

The costs of fulfilling the requirements I’ve previously outlined could vary widely depending on each student’s circumstance. Some students might have to travel to secure a COVID-19 test, some might require special assistance in quarantine accommodations, etc., and all would have to have exit funds. On a rough estimate, such costs could easily run $5,000 USD +.1 Despite this high figure, many universities have the ideal resource with which to cover these costs: tuition funds! In the U.S., the average tuition for international students is $26,290.2 In Canada it’s ~ $22,500 USD.3 In Australia it’s ~ $22,170 USD.4 In the U.K. it’s $14,130 USD.5 Tuition fees in this range are in great excess of the costs in question, and still leaving room for generous university profits — and international students studying at these four destinations alone constituted nearly half of the world’s entire international student population in 2017.6

Okay, but what if tuition doesn’t cover the costs? 

Then such universities ought to draw from reserve funds and redirect monetary resources. I recognize that some countries have universities which — even for international students — average tuition fees low enough (or absent) that such a proposal would be truly untenable. Such universities ought to draw on every reserve fund available to them to cover the costs in question and, where possible, redirect monetary resources away from existing projects. This includes, for example, money set aside for any and all new academically unnecessary projects (such as infrastructure, sports equipment, etc.). 

While such universities might incur profit losses as a result for that particular semester (or year), they still have 1-3 years to gather full tuition from each student in question. This means such universities will have a choice between no profit at all (i.e. the student won’t remote study and the university makes $0.00) and some profit (i.e. the student begins their studies with the university losing money that semester or year, but the university breaks even after year 2 and makes the usual profit on years 3 and 4).7 In the case where tuition is entirely free, the money should be drawn entirely from reserve and redirected funds.

But for the universities whose tuition fees could cover such costs, how do you get them to pay?

Mandate them. When a government passes and implements measures to open up to newly matriculated international students, it should simultaneously institute a mandate on universities to cover all costs brought about by such new measures. I also note that a hybrid approach — mandating universities to pay some of the would-be additional costs — is better than no mandate at all. This approach also addresses the issue of universities with lower-end tuition fees.

But what if a government can’t mandate universities in this way? 

Perhaps some governments can’t mandate every university in their country in this way (whether truly constitutionally incapable or merely politically unswayable). Nevertheless, some governments — such as the U.S. government — can pressure state governments to mandate their public universities to cover these costs (and should thus do so). — And what about private universities? Suppose public universities are mandated to cover the costs in question while private universities are not. Then, public universities will operate at optimal (or at least anticipated) enrollment while private universities will suffer from under-enrollment. This will have the effect of boosting the overall quality of public institutions in comparison with their private counterparts (think campus life, community sense, future alumni network and benefits gained therefrom — including donations, future discoveries made by alumni, awards won by alumni, citations on alumni papers, etc.). Meanwhile, top international student talent will likely be lured away from inaccessible private institutions to top public institutions. This will have the effect of diminishing the quality of students at private institutions — which will further compound the aforementioned problem private institutions will face of fewer students in general. Ideally, the prospect of this scenario will pressure private universities (who have more tuition money to redirect anyway) to voluntarily cover the costs in question. If they simply will not do so, then their would-be students will either have to secure the funds themselves (and I speculate there’s a better chance that they will be able to secure such funds than their public university counterparts in virtue of the fact they’ve had the resources to pay international student prices for private institutions) or demand a refund on tuition and enroll at another more ethically conscious university.

If there are governments which somehow can’t mandate any of their universities at all, then the universities in such countries should be nationally and internationally pressured to cover such costs. This will happen in a similar way as the scenario where public universities are mandated to cover costs while private universities are not: top talent will be drawn away, the universities in such countries will look less appealing, etc. (as with what’s currently happening to the U.S., though for different reasons). In such a case, the hope will be that the universities will relent and agree to cover the costs. 

A final thought — 

While universities ought to cover any and all such costs brought on by any additional measures governments would implement to ensure international students could reach their universities during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital that — even in the case of a government mandate on universities to cover such costs — students may optionally cover such costs themselves. This is vital because it will ensure that as many students as possible reach their universities (otherwise, a student who would be able to cover the costs themselves might face a situation where only universities may pay but refuse to do so).

Sources and clarifications:

(1.) This is my very rough estimate. For all prices, I took the pricier estimate because what we want to know is what the maximum cost could be. I estimated international plane ticket costs for September by searching flights between LA and Beijing and LA and Paris. Most flights I saw were running between $650 USD and $1,500 USD (I took this higher number). Then, I assumed 14 nights at a hotel with a rate of $100 USD per night ( = $1,400 USD). This number is an educated guess based on my own personal experience with hotel prices — this seems a good higher-average (hostels — even single room — are usually below $60 USD, in my experience). I set the food budget at $40 USD per day — to be safe: roughly twice of the average adult in 2012 according to Gallup (https://news.gallup.com/poll/156416/americans-spend-151-week-food-high-income-180.aspx). So that’s another $560 USD. As for COVID-19 tests, it’s tricky to get an average. Many sources report that they are free many countries, but the occasional $7,000 USD test does pop up (https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/08/coronavirus-test-costs-304058). After reading through articles about pricing for some time, I came to find that stories such as this (https://khn.org/news/bill-of-the-month-covid19-tests-are-free-except-when-theyre-not/) appear to be not-so-unusual (in the U.S.). This person ended up have to pay ~ $540 USD (obscene, by the way). I decided to use this number as the average, and tripled this for each of the three tests suggested in my outline (thus: $1,620 USD). So, 1500 + 1400 + 560 + 1620 = ~ 5000. When I thought about additional costs like transportation for COVID-19 tests (which could be hundreds of dollars more), etc., I decided to call it $5,000 USD +. This number is obviously quite rough, and the real figure could, in some cases, be much lower (even under $1,000 USD) or much higher ($10,000 USD +). What’s clear, though, is that such prices are below (often well below) the average international tuition in many countries.

(2.) https://www.studyinternational.com/news/charted-how-international-student-fees-at-us-universities-are-going-up-up-up/

(3.) https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/student-finance/how-much-does-it-cost-study-canada

(4.) https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/student-finance/how-much-does-it-cost-study-australia

(5.) https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/student-finance/how-much-does-it-cost-study-uk

(6.) https://www.studyinternational.com/news/country-home-largest-international-student-population/

(7.) There is, of course, the ignoble option: universities force students to work remotely while charging the full tuition — more on this (as it in fact unfolds) another time.

Link to this story: https://snmcgannon.com/2020/07/09/universities-should-pay-to-bring-international-students-to-campus-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/

How Governments Can Open Up Their Countries to International Students During the Coronavirus Pandemic

How can a government open up their country to newly matriculated international students during the COVID-19 pandemic?

By S N McGannon

July 5, 2020

Previous articles have discussed many difficulties international students currently face during the COVID-19 pandemic. Issues surrounding transit and border openings have been discussed in great length. These issues — indeed having immense impact on international students — are not unique to international students. However, there is an issue that is unique to international students (specifically, to newly matriculated international students), and that is the issue I am concerned with today. It is the issue of widespread government suspension of residence permits for studies.

Most governments around the world have suspended their usual issuance of residence permits for studies.

But what is a “residence permit for studies”?

In brief, it’s the visa most governments require a student to get in order to legally study in the country in question.

Why have they stopped issuing them?

Because, in general, a government will only issue visas to prospective students who prove their identity in person at one of their embassies or consulates (and typically the embassy or consulate closest to the prospective student’s residence at the time of application) and — as you know — many in-person services are mandated to be closed due to COVID-19. So a government “opening up” for international students really means that they begin issuing residence permits for studies.

So, what is being done to address this? What can be done to address this?

I’ve seen very little substantive discussion of this problem, and I haven’t seen any suggestions or proposals offering solutions (even tentative ones). It is my fervent hope that many such suggestions and proposals are being discussed in private. However, I nevertheless want to contribute to a broader public awareness and discussion surrounding this issue by presenting just such a proposal.

Please note that I am neither a public health expert nor an expert on immigration issues — just the usual anthropology philosophy double major. With that explicit, here is my proposal.

How a government can begin issuing residence permits for studies to newly matriculated international students during the COVID-19 pandemic

If a government requires that certain international students prove their identity at an embassy or consulate prior to their visa approval, then they should immediately amend that requirement and include an alternative route to doing so in cases where it is not possible for students to visit the relevant embassy or consulate. The alternative should be an alternative — rather than a replacement — so as to allow for the usual route to be taken in cases where possible (such as cases where the usual route is resumed between some countries but not others). Thus, the alternative route should say that if an applicant cannot prove their identity via the usual route due to issues caused by COVID-19, then they may instead follow a process similar to the one outlined below. 

These steps are to be completed in order:

  1. The applicant must prove that they have sufficient funds to (A) purchase a plane ticket outside the visa zone to which they would be traveling; and, (B) cover the costs of quarantine accommodations upon arrival for 14 days — in addition to any other funds they are already required to have to obtain a visa. This could be proven with, for example, a bank statement. This would ensure that, should the applicant be required to leave the country for any reason, they could do so without cost to the government of the country in question.
  2. The applicant must identify themselves by video conference. Of course, there should be certain guidelines for the conference — such as a strong internet connection, good lighting, the applicant being alone for the call, the applicant being able to display the original documents required, etc.

At this point the applicant should be granted permission to enter the country provided they are willing and able to meet the remaining steps (listed below).

  1. The applicant must prove upon arrival they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous 72 hours and submit to a temperature screening. This will reasonably ensure the student is unlikely to have COVID-19. If accurate, rapid COVID-19 tests are developed, this requirement could be replaced or supplemented with a requirement that the application must submit to a rapid test upon arrival.

At this point the applicant should be issued a temporary residence permit to be replaced with the full residence permit pending completion of steps 4 and 5.

  1. The applicant must undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine (e.g. even with prior proof of a negative test) at the end of which they must re-test negative for COVID-19. This precaution should be taken in the case the applicant contracted COVID-19 while traveling.
  2. The applicant must confirm their identity in-person at a domestic immigration point within a given timeframe. The timeframe should be decided given the circumstances in the country in question.

Once the immigration authorities have confirmed the applicant’s identity in-person, the applicant should be issued with the full residence permit on the basis of studies.

This proposal outlines what I take to be the strictest measures reasonable for how a government can begin issuing residence permits for studies to newly matriculated students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments ought to ease all such related restrictions as quickly as the situation permits.

Link to this story: https://snmcgannon.com/2020/07/04/how-governments-can-open-up-their-countries-to-international-students-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/