Introduction to special section: the politics of size in higher education

Alexander Mitterle, Roland Bloch, Susan L. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review


The world of higher education today is saturated by expressions of size and greatness. Universities are described as global, world class and excellent and they are expressed in international rank depictions, as selected points and visualised flows on world maps, or in coloured circles of the U-Multirank ranking. Such sizing practices are not necessarily new, their proliferation, and the ways in which we encounter them in the contemporary academy are. A (visual) language of marketing has expanded quickly–and sometimes quirkily–around the globe, mediated by a technical infrastructure that enables it to do so. Despite a symbolic meaning such sizing practices nourish first and foremost a profane building endeavour. In order to become large in distance the spectator’s gaze is channelled by devices, colours, semantics and numbers. The theme of this Special Section ‘the politics of size in higher education’ aims to bring the process and outcomes of referencing mediations into the spotlight. It aims at investigating how prestige and stratification are built through the spatial, material, and visual infrastructures and devices that make us believe in the greatness/size of a university.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-422
Number of pages4
JournalGlobalisation, Societies and Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • digitalization
  • higher education
  • Size
  • stratification
  • visualisation

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