Wednesday, August 06, 2008

THES university survey: Nothing but a marketing stunt?

The University of the Philippines was ranked 398 in the latest 2007 Times Higher Education survey (THES) of top 500 universities worldwide. Across Katipunan Road, the Ateneo de Manila came at 451. De La Salle and University of Santo Tomas once part of the 500 have dropped out of the list.

The UP website has this article about taking the survey results seriously. Ateneo's administrators have this to say and explain in detail how the rankings are made.

The UP and De La Salle have opted out of the surveys. The THES apparently used the 2006 data. Both Ateneo and UP have said that the surveys do not really reflect the contribution of the university to Philippine society.

Unfortunately, the surveys cannot be ignored. In the globalized world economy, higher education is more of a commodity than ever. The THES could change market preference for universities. That's why overseas universities take these surveys quite seriously. One Aussie university even had a press release on its ranking by a Chinese higher education magazine.Obviously a large chunk of that university's foreign student population came from China and overseas Chinese.

Our universities take pride on how manyof their alums passed or topped the exams for the professions (or in some cases on how good is the basketball team!). In fact our own version of THES is premised largely on these. This perplexes foreign visitors since it makes for a banner headline in the blurbs .(As for how good is the athletic team, we inherited this from the Americans. Some students choose a college on how good the football team is!)

Instead of denial, our university top honchos should have a balanced view of these surveys. No survey has perfect methodology and THES isn't an exception. But THES is a sort of peer review since academics worldwide are asked what they think of this university or that university. Our top university administrators always bug their faculty members that they have to submit their research papers for peer review. How come they are uneasy when the university as a whole is peer reviewed?

The criteria in THES are

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%).

Obviously research is heavily assessed. And universities are also rated on its internationalized clientele and teaching staff.

Here is where our universities stumble. We still think that our universities are solely for Filipinos. We miss out on international competitiveness. A national university such as UP is national not only because it serves the Filipino nation, but because it also serves other nations. A truly national university is in fact international.

The NUS in Singapore caters for an international clientele and has an internationalized staff.Of course one may argue that UP or Ateneo still can't match international standard salaries, but that may be offset by other attractions and the teaching and research reputation that the university can offer. (Of course UP or Ateneo will really have to upgrade professors'salaries)

While THES is market driven, it pays well to heed their surveys since it can shock us out of our parochial selves!


Bren said...

Even if you raise the salaries of their professors, it still will be the same professors!!!! When all is said and done, the UnivPhilippines of today really is not that good anymore.

blackshama said...


That's why UP has to get professors who did their PhDs elsewhere.

The Philippines has a damaging academic culture of universities hiring its own graduates. This promotes inbreeding.

In more competitive universities, alums get the last priority in the hiring process!