What counts and what doesn't in rankings? 1

October 16, 2008

How marvellously refreshing it was to read the glorious affirmation by the University of Chicago's Robert Zimmer that the whole and entire raison d'etre of his top-ranked university is "a singular focus on the value of open, rigorous and intense inquiry" ("World-beaters: but what makes these universities special?", 9 October).

Amid the pervasive marketing cant and prevailing business-speak balderdash, Zimmer's robust and confident celebration of "our belief in argumentation rather than deference" brought joy to my heart, tears to my eyes and a renewed sense of commitment to the life of the mind. I shall frame Zimmer's magnificent testimony as a timely gesture against the commoditisation of higher education.

William Keenan, School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University.

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