Saturday, 1 September 2007

Australia's Ivy League

The Ivy League is a collection of American universities that compete with each other in football. Today they are recognized as premier universities in America and the world, and usually membership into an Ivy League gives prestige and status. Here in Australia the equivalent is the Group of Eight universities. Since most Australians watch American TV, it's likely that your average Australian will not know anything about the Group of Eight yet know what the Ivy League is. Some people believe that Australian GO8 universities are not up there with the Ivy League universities, but according to the 2006 THES rankings, ANU in Camberra in 2006 was ranked 16th globally and Melbourne University was ranked 22nd globally. These two Australian universities, ANU and Melbourne, are consistently ranked in the global top 25. In fact, if you take the top global universities and mark those that belong to the Ivy League, many Australian universities are up there with the Ivy Leagues. This is illustrated in the figure above.

Below is a piece from Encarta questioning the value of Ivy League universities.
Is the Ivy League "Worth It"?

by Donald Asher

Right now, all over the country, high school students and their parents are scheming to get into the Ivy League. Young people are groomed practically from birth to be attractive to mysterious and all-powerful admissions committees guarding the gates of the eight universities that comprise the Ivies. Articles and books are written on packaging strategies, which classes and activities are "in" and which are now "passé," which provide an edge, and which might harm a student's chances.

There is even a psychological malady known as The Yale Syndrome, a sort of obsession with college admission that creates an unusually proximate time horizon for a young person, the moment of college admission. Students who suffer from this affliction do not develop a plan for success in college, or in any aspect of their lives, beyond the arrival of that "fat envelope" detailing their acceptance. Oddly, they share many of the same concepts of time as terminally ill cancer patients.

Parents view admission to one of these schools as a high grade on their parenting skills, and correspondingly view rejection as a low or failing grade. There is a great gnashing of teeth about the whole endeavor. But seldom does anyone really ask the question: Is the Ivy League "worth it"?

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