University rankings of my Alma Mater – Sydney/Vienna

Although I’m pleased that the two universities I’ve been and still am associated with both ranked in the top 200, I’ve been wondering why they’ve both slipped. 60 year-old UNSW, the University of New South Wales, is now 47th (45th last year) and the University of Vienna, the oldest German-speaking university clocked in at 132nd (115th last year).

Is it because government funding is weak in both places? Is it because research has to assert itself in the marketplace and there is no room to err? Methinks a lot is being lost in not being allowed to make mistakes; mistakes often lead to new ways of thinking, new fresh directions. But mistakes, they say, are costly. Haven’t we learned from the FiCri, or the BigFinancialCrisis? (Roald Dahl move over.)

There’s also that tricky sword edge of “independence”. Why don’t all the moguls invest in the future by putting their pennies into a university trust? Me naïve? Everyone wants returns on investments; but those returns don’t always have to be measured in lucre, do they?

If governments are sincere in thinking of the future, why do they always want to have their cake now. OK, next time, the other side may be up. So are we in one country, are we in one world? Investment in learning goes beyond one party, beyond one life. And if you keep filling the lecture rooms until they burst, how do you hear, let alone learn?