Many of us are familiar with university rankings. There is a new index that ranks universities by their web presence. This index is achieved by a combination of factors. The first is the size, the actual amount of files in each university. Then there is the impact, which is the amount of incoming links. Then they measure rich files, the amount of downloadable files (such as handouts, presentations and others).

The results are extremely interesting, and perhaps not very surprising. The top university is MIT. The first non-American university is Cambridge, ranked at 20, beating Oxford, ranked 27. The University of Edinburgh is the 4th European university, ranked 48 overall. The top Asian university is the University of Tokyo, at 50. The top Latin American one is UNAM (Universidad Autónoma de México) ranked 108 overall. My old alma mater, Universidad de Costa Rica, is ranked 912 (well, at least they are ranked).

I think that these ranking tell us quite a lot. For example, universities should be making more efforts to keep good websites, filled with useful and downloadable information. One way of making information accessible online is by hosting open access journals, online databases and online repositories. Information breeds links, and links breed prestige.

Another point is the obvious dominance by universities in developed countries. Latin America and Africa only have 27 universities listed. Is this the digital divide at work?

Categories: Academia

1 Comment

Moses · June 25, 2007 at 8:42 am

African universities will fair very badly when ranked on web presence and content. It is however noteworthy that African states have resolved to lay a high speed fibre optic network that will connect the Eastern Coast of Africa to the rest of the world. We will stop relying on expensive and unreliable satelittes, and we will also be able to set up many collaborative approaches aimed at resource sharing amongst African univeristies and institutions of higher learning. A good venture is KENET, the USAID funded initiative that seeks to netwrok and provide internet access and presence for all the universities and tertiary institutions in Kenya.

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