From access to basic equipment, technology and quiet working spaces to childcare burdens and job cuts, the pandemic has exacerbated existing disparities among individuals, communities, institutions and countries.
Increased attention on inequalities has also sparked hope that systems and structures will change and that academia will become more inclusive. Universities in emerging economies could be among the beneficiaries.
Gerard Postiglione, emeritus professor of higher education at the University of Hong Kong and coordinator of the Consortium for Higher Education Research in Asia, says two trends which started before Covid-19 but have since accelerated, may help emerging countries in this regard.
One is the rapid acceleration of technology, which “makes it possible for developing countries’ universities to enter global knowledge networks” in a way they have not previously. Another is the increasing drive among top universities, higher education systems and governments in developed countries to solve global problems, which makes institutions in other parts of the world even more attractive and useful partners.
But a THE analysis also highlights the challenges that developing nations in Africa, Asia and Europe will need to overcome, with scholars warning that the pandemic may only increase the gap between research quantity and quality in more and less advanced systems.
The THE Emerging Economies University Rankings was born out of a desire to be more equal. It was designed to highlight countries that were often overlooked in the global league table and to provide universities in such nations a chance to benchmark themselves against peers operating in similar economic environments. The methodology of the World University Rankings (WUR) was tweaked for this spin-off to reflect the development priorities of universities in emerging economies. The Emerging Economies WUR methodology gives more weight to knowledge transfer and international outlook and less to research influence.
(Excerpted and adapted from Times Higher Education and The Economist)