Alan Ruby

Senior Fellow
Senior Scholar, Penn AHEAD

Higher Education Division

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

Phone: 215-746-2363


Professional Biography

Alan Ruby has a substantial career in government, business, philanthropy, and education. His experience includes being a classroom teacher, the Australian Deputy Secretary of Education, and chair of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) education committee. At the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Ruby is a senior scholar in the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) and focuses on the effects of globalization on universities and education around the world. A highly regarded teacher, he leads graduate seminars on “Globalization and the University.” He received Penn GSE’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006.

He currently serves as a consultant to the World Bank, an adviser to the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools, the Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, the Head Foundation in Singapore, and the American Institutes of Research. In 2015 he was made a member of the Order of Australia for significant service to international education through global reform initiatives and his work with philanthropic organizations. 

Mr. Ruby was a senior executive of one of the world’s premier grant-making groups, The Atlantic Philanthropies, and served as director of the Human Development Sector for the East Asia Region of the World Bank. He led the World Bank’s programs in education, health, and social insurance in twelve countries, including China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. 

Mr. Ruby served for over six years as Australia’s Deputy Secretary of Employment, Education, Training, and Youth Affairs, where he was responsible for primary and secondary education, higher education, and vocational education and training. He chaired the education programs of the OECD, spearheading the development of education metrics comparing school results across member countries, including the development of a new assessment regime (PISA). He was also a member of the Scientific Advisory Group that created the framework for the flagship OECD publication Education at a Glance. Early in his career, he was a teacher and an official in the state government of New South Wales.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Mr. Ruby maintains a long-standing interest in education reform, globalization, alliances between unions and governments, and the role of education in developing economies. In collaboration with colleagues at Penn, he has been examining the opportunities massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer to increase access to higher education and learning. 

Selected Publications

Ruby, A., Perna, L., Boruch, R., & Wang, N. (forthcoming). Are there metrics for MOOCs from social media? Online learning.

Boruch, R., Ruby, A. (2015). To flop is human: Inventing better scientific approaches to anticipating failure. In R. Scott & S. Kosslyn (Eds.), Emerging trends in the social and behavioral sciences. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Ruby, A., (2015, 14 May). A pick ‘n’ mix programme can be an incoherent one. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2015, 9 April). Generation Y are failing to put money where their mouths are. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2015, 29 January). US student debt: Borrowing the long and lending the short of it. Times Higher Education. 

Ruby, A. (2015, 8 January). Super-sized system offers more choice than the McDonald’s menu. Times Higher Education. 

Perna, L. W., Ruby, A., Boruch, R. F., Wang, N., Scull, J., Ahmad, S., & Evans, C. (2014). Moving through MOOCs: Understanding the progression of users in massive open online courses. Educational Researcher.

Ruby, A. (2014, 27 November). The discounting trend at US universities. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2014, 16 October). A welcome clash of academic cultures. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2014). Preparing global citizens. The International Educator.

Ruby, A. (2014, 11 September). How a small university maintains its big international reach. Times Higher Education. 

Ruby, A. (2014, 1 May). Heavy weather: Fiscal clouds and MOOC waves in the sunshine state. Times Higher Education.

Perna, L., & Ruby, A. (2014). Cautious towards MOOCs. ScienceGuide.

Chi, P. T., Ruby, A., & Linh, H. H. (2014). Mid-term review of the Vietnamese-German University. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

Ruby, A., & Sarinzhipov, A. (2014). Towards the next stages of educational reform in Kazakhstan. In D. Bridges (Ed.), Educational reform and internationalization: The case of school reform in Kazakhstan. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 

Ruby, A., & McLaughlin, C. (2014). Transferability and the Nazarbayev intellectual schools: Exploring models of practice transfer. In D. Bridges (Ed.), Educational reform and internationalization: The case of school reform in Kazakhstan. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 

Ruby, A. (2013, 28 November). State interventionism. Times Higher Education. 

Ruby, A., & Jaramillo, A. (2013). A buyer’s guide to branch campuses. In D. Araya & P. Marber (Eds.), Higher education in the global age: Policy, practice and promise in emerging societies. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ruby, A., & Boruch R. (2013, 5 September). Failure analysis. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2013). Benchmarking higher education. In A. Jaramillo (Ed.), The 100 universities study: University governance in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

Ruby. A. (2013, 27 June). Big, bold and highly accessible. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2013). Market trends for international students—2020: Trends and Insights. Washington, DC: NAFSA. (Also published in The International Educator, March 2014, and in ScienceGuide as Where will international students go?, 10 June 2013.)

Perna, L., & Ruby, A. (2013). The silver bullet of education. ScienceGuide.

Ruby, A. (2013, 9 May). Massive, open, online appraisals. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2013). A few global trends and points of commonality in quality assurance in higher education. In T. Regan & A. Saginkyeva (Eds.), Eurasian higher education leaders forum conference proceedings. Nazarbayev: Nazarbayev University.

Ruby, A. (2013, 28 February). Adapt, survive, and thrive. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2013, 10 January). More to MOOCs than moolah. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2013). Tinker, tailor. In L. W. Perna (Ed.), Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs in metropolitan America. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Ruby, A. (2012, 1 November). Bologna tasters enter US menus. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2012, 4 October). Take and give. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2012, 9 August). Beyond a joke. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2012, 12 July). Recommended reading. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2012, 26 June). A utilitarian view of rankings. Trends and Insights for International Education Leaders. Washington, DC: NAFSA.

Ruby, A., & Kelly, S. (2012). Status update: Actively engaging our friends. Times Higher Education.

Ruby, A., & Jaramillo, A. (2011). A buyers guide to branch campuses. University World News.

Ruby, A. (2011). Moving past the agent debate. Trends and Insights for International Education Leaders. Washington, DC: NAFSA.

Hartley, M., & Ruby, A. (2011, 29 March). A little supervision is a good thing. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Jaramillo, A., Ruby, A., Henard, F., & Zaapanne, H. (2011). Internationalization of higher education in MENA: Policy issues associated with skills formation and mobility. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

Ruby, A. (2010, 18 November). The not so open door. Inside Higher Ed. 

Choudaha, R., & Ruby, A. (2010). Foreign borders: Putting national needs first. University World News.

Ruby, A. (2010). India: Selling services or spreading light? University World News.

Ruby, A. (2010, 29 January). India is opening up. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Ruby, A. (2010). The uncertain future for international higher education in the Asia Pacific. Washington, DC: NAFSA.