2007 THES-QS World University Rankings

http://www.ateneo.edu/index.php?p=120&type=2&sec=31&aid=4489

2007 THES-QS World University Rankings

date posted: 2007-11-27 14:50:25

The Times Higher Education Survey of World Universities came out just recently with their 2007 rankings. This year, the University of the Philippines Diliman (Rank 398) and the Ateneo de Manila University (Rank 451) are the only two Philippine universities in the top 500. Below is a fuller write-up on these rankings by Dr. Ma. Assunta C. Cuyegkeng, Vice President for the Loyola Schools.

I would just like to reiterate what Dr. Cuyegkeng says in her comments on how we should view these surveys. If I may quote from Fr. Jim McDermott, S.J. in a September 2007 article in the Jesuit weekly “America” about the U.S. News & World Report on “America’s Best Colleges”:

“The question of the criteria used to evaluate the schools is of particular concern for Catholic colleges and universities. . . . In the face of high competition and secular standards, the very question of what purpose a higher rank serves in the Christian scheme of things is easily lost. . . . The report exerts too much influence for most schools to simply ignore it. But Catholic schools would do themselves and our society a great service (and some do) by evaluating and presenting themselves in terms of the intellectual and spiritual formation they provide, the questions they raise, the service they require, the world they wish to build and the faith that guides their efforts. U.S. News may not appreciate these values, but in a world hungry for meaning and purpose, many others will.”

We will continue with our efforts to grow in excellence and in linkages with peer institutions internationally. However, our priorities will continue to be the formation of a next generation of leaders who will not only be the best in their chosen professions, but who will place this excellence at the service of others. We seek to remain faithful to the call of Fr. Pedro Arrupe whose 100th birthday we celebrated last November 14 to educate “men and women for others”.

BIENVENIDO F. NEBRES, S.J.


Comments on Ateneo de Manila University’s Performancein the 2007 THES-QS World University Rankings

Dr. Ma. Assunta C. Cuyegkeng
Vice President for the Loyola Schools

Last year’s THES-QS World University Rankings caused quite a stir among university personnel in various parts of the world. In the Philippines, it became a big thing because of university rivalries. Ateneo de Manila University decided to come out with a statement because of the reactions of its alumni and other publics.

This year, the University of the Philippines Diliman (Rank 398) and the Ateneo de Manila University (Rank 451) are the only two Philippine universities in the top 500 (Tables 1 and 2). The Ateneo de Manila is the only Philippine university that increased its rankings (Table 2). We are happy to be in such a position, but perhaps, this is also the best time to reiterate what we have been saying about rankings, in general.

First, the quality of the rankings depends on the soundness of the methodology, data acquisition process, and survey instrument. Perhaps, this is why QS, the group responsible for research, initiated some changes in their methodology (Sowter, 2007):

1. Peer reviewers were prevented from promoting their own university.
2. QS switched to Scopus from ESI (Thomson) for citation data. According to Sowter, this covers a larger number of papers and journals overall and, thus, greater representation from lesser known universities and institutions from academic systems with less emphasis on publication. It also has less pronounced bias towards the US, and covers more sources in languages other than English
3. There is consistent usage of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) data for all personnel related data.
4. They standardized scores using Z-score aggregation of indicators to generate overall scores.

QS also exerted effort to get the correct data, directly from the universities. There was the temptation not to participate (by not submitting data), but we thought that this would be to our disadvantage because they will try to get the data from other sources, anyway.

Second, rankings are designed to have a special purpose or market; hence, the weights of the criteria should reflect this. This year, the same weights, as decided by the Times Higher Education Supplement, were used for the survey. Research Quality is measured through Peer Review (40%) and Citations per Faculty (20%); Graduate Employability through Recruiter Review (10%); International Outlook through International Faculty (5%) and International Students (5%); and Teaching Quality through Student-Faculty Ratio (20%). However, if the purpose of the World University Rankings is to give information to international students, it is not clear why graduate employability and international outlook only get 10% each.

Third, rankings are more subject to fluctuations as they move away from the top range, because of the error range and deviations. Thus, these rankings should be prudently used. While we want to keep our publics informed, we do not think it is something we should use for our official brochures.

Fourth, breakdown of scores according to the criteria is more instructive because they give better insight into the particular strengths and weaknesses of the institution. We are awaiting the release of the scores for the different indicators, so that we may use this to help us recognize our areas of strengths and weaknesses. For example, last year’s breakdown showed that we were very low in Peer Review, which constituted 40% of the score. This suggested that Ateneo had to work to be better known by colleagues abroad, and so we exerted more effort in internationalization, e.g., networking, linkages, and student mobility. On the other hand, we were the top-ranked Philippine university in the Recruiter Review, International Faculty, and International Students.

Finally, we maintain that rankings like these (their survey instrument, the weights they use) don’t reflect our vision/mission. Thus, we will not allow these to distract us from pursuing our goals. We will continue to work harder at being better known in the region to highlight the leadership and excellence of our faculty and students, and the institution’s contribution to national development. We will continue to do what Ateneo does best: the total formation of students and the preparation of students for leadership. This formation for leadership is what makes Ateneo the highly regarded university that it has been for almost 150 years.

As Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J. pointed out: “Rankings in the Times survey are important because they measure how the world perceives us. But just as persons have to take what people think of them in the context of their own values and priorities, we, too, have to reflect on these perceptions and measures within our own view of our vision and mission. Thus, while we will work on strengthening our research and publications in ISI journals… we need to do this in a way that does not move us away from our vision/mission and our traditional strengths: leadership formation and contribution to national development. These have to continue to be our priorities as a Jesuit university committed to the service of faith and the promotion of justice and as a university in a Philippines, whose greatest challenge is overcoming poverty and national development.”

Table 1. The scores of the Philippine universities (percentage points)

School 2007 2006
UP 34.7 21.7
ADMU 30.8 13.3
DLSU 23.9 17.8
UST 20.8 12.2

Table 2. The ranks of the Philippine universities

School 2007 2006 2005
UP 398 299 372
ADMU 451 484 520
DLSU 519 392 526
UST 535 500 531

Note:
Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database of research literature and quality web sources. It covers 15,000 peer-reviewed journals from more than 4,000 publishers, including over 1,000 Open Access journals, 500 conference proceedings, and over 600 trade publications.

Reference:
Sowter, Ben, “THES – QS World University Rankings 2007”, in http://www.topuniversities.com/, last accessed 18 November 2007.