It is a malady of the modern age for universities. The forces of globalization and a campaign by various international university ranking enterprises place too much emphasis on a narrow model of what the best universities should be. One result: the notion of a “World Class University” (WCU) and the focus on its close relative, global rankings of universities, dominates the higher education policymaking of ministries and major universities throughout the globe. Why the attention almost exclusively on research productivity and a few key markers of prestige, like Nobel Laureates? One major reason is that globally retrievable citation indexes (also a relatively new phenomenon) and information on research income are now readily available and not subject to the labor intensive, and sometimes dubious, efforts to request and get data from individual institutions.
But another reason is the sense that research productivity and prestige remains the key identifier of the best universities. The ancillary is that other primary missions of the most influential universities, such as high quality undergraduate and graduate education, a devotion to public service, universities as pathways for socio-economic mobility and regional economic development, are less important and, ultimately, harder to measure. Yet these are key activities that also require recognition, nurturing and expansion for top universities in Asia, in Europe, in Sweden, in the larger world. These are also among the strengths of Malmö University.