Despite heavy investment in higher education sector during last 14 years, Pakistan failed to make its place among top 100 universities of Asia. The Times Higher Education (THE), one of the most prestigious ranking agencies worldwide, revealed its ranking of ‘Asia’s Top 100 Universities 2014.’ The ranking carried quite a few surprises as there were losers and winners across Asia. As expected, Japan led with the top university in Asia (University of Tokyo) followed by Singapore (National University of Singapore) and Hong Kong (The City University of Hong Kong). Japan had the largest number (20) of 100 top ranked universities in Asia, but for the first time ever, 20 universities from China were able to make it to the top 100. South Korea was third with 14 universities and Taiwan with 12 universities. The city of Hong Kong had 6 universities, while Singapore had 2. India was the only country in South Asia which had a presence among top Asian universities with 9 higher education institutions. Among the Muslim countries, Turkey had 5, Iran and Saudi Arabia 3 each, and Lebanon had one. According to THE, thoughtfully 13 calibrated performance indicators are employed to rank an institution. These include: the teaching and learning environment, volume, income and reputation of research, citations of research (indicating influence), and industry income that serves as evidence of innovation and global outlook as assessed in terms of the collaboration between staff, students and researchers with international colleagues. The disappointing fact was Pakistan’s absence from the list, neither making it in South Asia, nor among the Muslim countries. China, which has focused on higher education in the last 10 years, was able to top the list with 20 universities. Even war-torn Lebanon had one university in the league. The UK based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World Universities Rankings ranked seven Pakistani universities among the top Asian universities in 2013, from zero in 2009. However in the most recent ranking of Times Higher Education (THE), yet another prestigious UK ranking agency, no Pakistani university made it to the top World or Asian University. Academia termed it a matter of concern and stressed the need of research-led teaching. They said basic requirement for improving the standard of universities was to have highly qualified faculty experienced in research. They said funds were another essential requisite. Cash-strapped universities cannot move forward in research. In fact, Chinese universities have shown more improvement in their ranks compared to Japanese institutions because the former have received more funding. Japan’s expenditure on research has been affected by the pressure its economy faces. They emphasised the need to encourage ranking culture among Pakistani universities so that they could realise their strong points and could focus over the areas which need attention for national and international rankings.
Source: The News.