The implications of university rankings for Taiwan's higher education

  • William Yat Wai Lo

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


University rankings have become increasingly popular in recent years. The prevalence of league tables has intensified discussions about performance and competition in the higher education sector, including that of Taiwan. Rankings and the many related phenomena, like increased competition among institutions and systems, the pursuit of research excellence as well as the call for internationalisation and building world- class universities, have come into the centre of the discussion. This thesis adopts a qualitative case study approach to provide a systemic delineation and interpretation of the implications of the ranking movement for Taiwan's higher education. It reviews the literature on different theories concerning the global transformation of higher education. It also gives basic information on Taiwanese higher education. Based on the literature reviewed, the thesis develops a four-dimensional framework for the analysis of the ranking phenomenon in Taiwan. The first dimension aims to look into how university rankings have impacted on Taiwan's higher education based on empirical findings from five Taiwanese public universities. The second dimension examines how Taiwan can use rankings to promote its interests in global higher education. The third and fourth dimensions focus on the connection between rankings and power in higher education. They show how the ranking phenomenon can be read and explained through theoretical lenses from ecological and geographical perspectives. In regard to ecological perspective, the empirical evidence suggests that the influence of rankings varies throughout the academic hierarchy in Taiwan. The theoretical analysis then illustrates the link between the ranking phenomena and the power structure in academic hierarchy. As for the geographical perspective, while the empirical analysis is based on data from Taiwan, the theoretical analysis offers important insights for us to understand the changing global landscape of higher education and its implications for higher education in the East Asia region. 2.
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRay Forrest (Supervisor) & Misa Izuhara (Supervisor)

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