We are very delighted to announce that the chapter: Boyadjieva, P. (2022). (Un)avoidable Clash: Higher Education at the Altar of Its Missions and Rankings. In: Parreira do Amaral, M., Thompson, C. (eds) Geopolitical Transformations in Higher Education. Educational Governance Research, vol 17, pp: 125-142. Springer, Cham., which was prepared within the JustEdu project, has been published: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-94415-5_8.


Nowadays, higher education institutions (HEIs) throughout the world face challenges that interfere not only with their functioning but also with their very identity as institutions. These are challenges stemming from the changed context in society as a whole, in science and in the wider realm of education, but also from the increased status hierarchy among HEIs, legitimised and maintained by various rankings. At the same time, differentiation of missions and profiles in HEIs is still widely seen as a means of adjusting higher education provision to the growing and increasingly diverse demands of the labour markets for a highly qualified labour force. Some HEIs however have adopted a purely instrumental role for higher education as entirely subordinated to the demands of the labour market. According to many authors, the result of these developments is that higher education and its main institution – the university – have fallen into crisis and are losing their legitimacy as they move away from their historical character and functions.

Against this background the chapter discusses the tensions stemming from both the plurality of missions of HEIs and the inevitability of global rankings, which – in most cases – are based on narrow and one-sided indicators. In order to take into account, the diversity of contributions of higher education at both individual and societal level a multidimensional model of the missions of higher education is elaborated and presented. The model refers to intrinsic, instrumental and transformative/empowering role of higher education as an institution. Global rankings are criticized as neglecting the diversity of HEIs in terms of their missions, goals and structure and as affirming a limited understanding of the public benefit derived from higher education. In April 2019 Times Higher Education released the world’s first impact rankings which assessed universities against their contribution to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These rankings reveal a new hierarchy of universities which demonstrates serious tensions between their different missions.