chapter  1
Why talk about prestige?
Pages 16

This chapter presents an overview of key concepts discussed in this book. The book focuses on the idea of prestige, and emphasises the implicit and covert as well as the explicit aspects of gaining an advanced position in a domain. Academic excellence is inherently competitive. However, that competitiveness is obvious than ever before, encouraged by deliberate government policy in many countries and also by changes in communication technologies and the globalisation of higher education. Prestige occurs where something is valued highly by a group of people, and association with that thing confers raised status on an individual or group. Prestige is thus both a psychological and a sociological issue. There is a worldwide trend within nation states to see universities as contributors to economic growth, and many institutions are increasingly attuned to the money economy. This produces the contested space of academic capitalism, where some traditional academic values are challenged, for example in the valuations of basic and applied research.