This paper aims to explore the influence of wealth, transparency and democracy on the number of universities per million people ranked among the top 300 and 500. The highly ranked universities in the world tend to be concentrated in a few countries.
ANOVA was used to test the differences between the two groups in terms of three key national variables that are likely to affect higher education. These variables are gross domestic product per capita (GDPPC), transparency and democracy. Cluster analysis was used to find out if there were any groupings of countries based on the number of top-ranked universities and the above three variables. Correlation analysis was also used to confirm the relationship between the key variables and the number of universities among the top 500 and 300 universities per million people. Finally, partial correlations and linear regression were used to identify the most important factor(s) affecting the number of universities among the top 500 and 300 universities per million people.
ANOVA revealed that countries with top-ranked universities had higher GDPPC, transparency and democracy levels than countries with no top-ranked universities. Cluster analysis resulted in two groups of countries: one group of countries with a higher number of ranked universities, higher democracy level, higher transparency and higher GDPPC. The other group had lower values for each of the above variables. Pearson correlations confirmed that the number of top universities per million people is related to the three national variables. Partial correlation and regression revealed that transparency is the only significant factor that directly determines the number of universities among the top 500 in the world. On the other hand, both transparency and GDPPC are significant in determining the number of universities ranked in the top 300 per million people. This means that universities ranked among the top 500 are generally found in countries with higher transparency levels, while top 300 universities are generally found in countries that have both higher transparency levels and higher GDPPC.
This paper paves the way for further research on transparency and ethics in higher education. The impact of wealth, transparency and democracy can also be measured in other industries, and particularly those linked to learning and innovation.
This paper draws the attention to the fact that top universities are found in richer, more democratic and more transparent countries. It, however, indicates that the single factor associated with the number of universities ranked among the top 500 is transparency. Policy makers should therefore focus on increasing transparency to increase the likelihood of having top-ranked universities. Having universities ranked among the 300 is also linked to having higher GDPPC. This indicates that transparency can drive all other factors associated with having universities ranked among the first 500 in the world, but further improvement of university ranking to first 300 universities also requires greater financial strength. This is understandable given the expense associated with attracting first-class faculty members and having world-class research programs.
This is the first paper that researched the differences between countries having top-ranked universities and countries having no top-ranked universities. It also identified transparency as the single factor affecting the number of top 500 ranked universities per million people. It is also the first paper to have distinguished between having universities ranked among the top 300 in the world and universities ranked among the top 500. It showed that factors expected to be play a key role in determining higher education success such as democracy index and GDPPC were not significant in determining the number of top 500 universities per million people. This paper, however, showed that the number of top 300 universities per million per country depends not only on transparency but also on GDPPC. This paper provides a good understanding of barriers to university excellence in many countries. These barriers may also be pertinent to other institutions where learning is highly significant.
Jabnoun, N. (2015), "The influence of wealth, transparency, and democracy on the number of top ranked universities", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 108-122. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAE-07-2013-0033Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited