Most of the major rankings tend to be dominated by large research intensive institutions, and they also tend to be some of the older institutions in their respective countries. In order to examine what is going on with the newer institutions, Times Higher Education launched today a new ranking – calling it the “100 under 50”. In many ways this formulation somehow reminds of lists of young promising entrepreneurs, and one could perhaps argue that this resemblance in formulation is not completely coincidental.
In the complementary THE magazine these institutions are presented as having upward trajectories, little institutional baggage and opportunities for rapid response to societal needs – they are presented as somehow different and “doing their own thing“. Knowing the one Norwegian institution on that list – University of Tromsø – this “being different” motto was quite prominent during its establishment, and they were reffered to as a regional experiment during their establishment in 1968.
However, as the magazine also points out, this newness can also provide its challenges – where research cultures might not be established quite yet and the institution needs to finds its place in the local and global higher education landscape. Overall, it was well under half of these young universities, in fact only 19 of them, that rank amongst the top 200 in the world (according to World University Rankings). So – does this imply that when building a world class institution – age matters?