Monday, October 13, 2008

Academic Excellence

From Haaretz:

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was ranked 93 in the world this year by the Times Higher Education survey, released last weekend. This means the university has jumped by 35 places since last year.

Other Israeli universities appearing among the 200 leading schools include the Technion (ranked 109 overall, but 29 in the field of engineering) and Tel Aviv University (114). Hebrew University thus ranked ahead of prestigious institutions like the universities of Munich, Zurich, Georgetown, Vienna, Ohio, Sussex and Basel.

In the humanities, the university's ranking was even higher, at 41, while Tel Aviv's humanities department was ranked 80. In social sciences, Hebrew University came in at 49, while Tel Aviv ranked 56.

How do they know?

The calculation is based on rankings by experts, citations in scholarly journals and faculty surveys.

I derive a double kind of special pleasure from this news. One reason for my pleasure is simple and straightforward enough, because I am myself a graduate of The Hebrew University, where I studied English Literature.

The second reason for my pleasure is kind of perverse, since it is glee over the fact that this academic excellence and its acknowledgement is a virtual spit in the face of the boycotting movement.

Here is an article from 2002, which boasts:

British academics have delivered a series of snubs to their Israeli counterparts since the idea of a boycott first gained ground in the spring.

In interviews with the Guardian, British and Israeli academics listed various incidents in which visits, research projects and publication of articles have been blocked.

I daresay, if boycott-mongering British academics were to have their way, The Times Higher Education survey would not have been able to rank Israeli universities at all, since there would have been no inter-university cooperation, no publications by Israeli academics, no inter-fertilization and their attendant good opinion and hence, no mention of Israeli academic excellence.

Does that mean that the boycotting Britannia movement is about to pack up and leave, ashen faced and defeated? Don't bet on it. These are hardy academics hell bent on demonising Israel, even at the price of academic progress. This is how dedicated they are.


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