Ranking is not a clear indicator of university’s quality


IT’S been nearly 17 years since the QS rankings (also known as THES-QS at one time) released its maiden list of the top universities in the world. It has been a roller-coaster experience for some of our leading public universities including Universiti Malaya since then.

As part of its past serving academics (Hashim is a past vice-chancellor and currently emeritus professor at UM, and Kuru is a past deputy vice-chancellor and currently honorary professor at UM’s Institute of Mathematical Sciences), we are delighted to see UM in the Top 100 even with its drop to 65th position from last year’s 59th. It is an envious position to hold among the largest cohort of world universities that have been studied by QS for the 2022 rankings.

But hard work is just not enough. It is always about money. Our top institutions of higher learning have slowly and steadily risen in the QS rankings thanks to the introduction of research universities and science funding, which also assisted in shining the spotlight on several other public universities in recent years.

Unbeknown to the public at large, the Higher Education Ministry in 2010 had blessed the UM proposal in its ambitious high impact research funding. This triggered the gradual rise of UM out of the Top 200 to last year’s 59th. The 20% effect of the citations/faculty ratio will affect UM and other universities.

The hard work of past and present academia as well as UM’s top management has assisted in maintaining its high academic reputation among the world’s universities.

It is also a great surprise among architects of private universities in Malaysia to witness the rise and rise of private universities! The top management at Taylors College and UCSI as well as other private universities will be grinning from ear to ear as they continue their rise in the QS rankings against the top in the world.

It will be difficult for private universities to compete with the bigger institutions in the local arena, but well-executed collaboration between some of these private universities and public universities in Malaysia or overseas will assist in growing and maintaining their visibility!

But be warned that these rankings are not a clear indicator of quality!

HASHIM YAACOB

and KURU RATNAVELU

Kuala Lumpur

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