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Friday, November 9, 2007

QS World University Rankings 2007-why Malaysia University not in Top 200?

In terms of the rankings, QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited managing director Nunzio Quacquarelli says Universiti Malaya (UM) is the highest ranked at 246, followed by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) at 307, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) at 309 and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) at 364.
Quote from The Star Nov 11,2007

The released of the QS World University Rankings 2007 saw all of Malaysia University drop out of Top 200 for the first time. It is not just happen to our local university which has suffer a big drop, but China's university and Singapore university as well.
There has 4 changes of the methodology for 2007 ranking compare with last year. This may be the main reason why this year ranking has bigger changes than previous year. However, I believe 2007 ranking actually is the best reflects the truth so far.
Download the complte QS ranking 2007 here in MS word format.
Top 200 University ranking
Top 50 for Arts
Top 50 for Life Sciences
Top 50 for Natural Sciences
Top 50 for Social Sciences
Top 50 for Technology

What is the changes?
1. Peer review
The peer review for 2007 has restricted the academics to complete the survey in the favour of their own university. This will effect the country that has less university in the list as they can only review university other than his country according to QS explanation.
2. Changes of citation data
The main changes is the source of citation data from ESI (Thomson) to Scopus. However, QS claimed that Scopus database is less pronounced bias towards the US. Besides, Scopus covers a larger numbers of papers and journals and more sources in languages other than English.
3. Consistent usage of Full Time Equivalent data for personnel related data
Qs said there was reporting confusion of the number of faculty from a university. Therefore FTE is implemented and this indicator is more accurate.
4. Z-score aggregation
Z- score or normal score is replaced the scaled against top performer. Previous year, a small error of data collection for top university may affect other university ranking below. However, Z- score data error only effect the university itself and less influence ranking of other university.

Why Malaysia University drop in QS World University ranking
I do not have details of the score for each category of Malaysia University. Perhaps we can analyse from the 4 changes of methodology will affect our local university.
1. Peer review
Peer review is 40% of the overall score. I strongly believe all Malaysia university is score poorly in this area. Since our academics are not allowed to pick the university from their own country. Academics are asked to pick 30 university that they regard as the leaders in this field (science, bio medicine, technology, social science or the arts and humanities). So I believe the outcome of the result is less bias than previous year. To claim Malaysia is a small country and this method of evaluation is disadvantage to smaller country is totally not making any sense. Look at National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technology University (NTU)which score 100 and 84 respectively in peer review is the best answer for those who think this is the answer of Malaysia universities vanish from Top 200 list. Instead, we should ask why we are in the Top 200 last year because our academics have do the survey favour for their own university?
Note: NUS and NTU suffer poor score in Staff to student category result their drop in ranking.
2.Changes of citation data
OK, changing the citation data to Scopurs that cover more languages should be a good news to our local universities that previously complaint many of the research papers is written in Malay. Although, I don't know the exact score, we can presume it does not help much for the Malaysia universities to climb up the ranking. It also shown that local universities is weak in research and citation data that covered only in English is not the reason Malaysia universities rock bottom the table previous year.
3. The remaining two methodology only make the QS ranking more accurate and i believe is neutral to Malaysia university.

Other matters arise from QS ranking
1. UM vice-chancellor Datuk Rafiah Salim has claim the UM is back to No 1 in Malaysia and No 4 is South East Asia. We all know that NUS and NTU is both in the Top 200 list. Singapore Management University is unlikely to be included in the ranking survey, I strongly believe the South East Asia No 3 spot go to Thailand, Chulalongkorn University . Chulalongkorn University is in ranking 161 in 2006 and is rank 83 in Social Science and 100 in Technology. Click the link here.
2. Government(JPA) unwilling to recognised the degree from China and Taiwan university for many years. Universities from China and Taiwan have been consistently beaten our local university in the World university ranking. However, Malaysia is more willing to recognised degree from Indonesia and Egypt for example. I really can not understand what is the point to recognised the degree that is inferior to our local degree but ignore the higher standards one.

Perhaps, we no need to be too serious of the ranking as our local public universities not even pass for the fundamental things. Exam questions and notes is the same for many years, no interactive teaching method, quality of the lecturers , student selection method, Dean, administration of university that lack of education vision and much much more. Perhaps you can add in the comments.
I really can not understand how can we select students in two different of qualification, STPM and matriculation. STPM is accepted by Oxford, Matriculation? If both matriculation and STPM is open to all the students and yet there are students opt fro STPM, I can only say I admire their courage. However, everyone know it is not the case. I predict there will be no changes of the education unfairness for the next 50 years in Malaysia, although I hope it will not.
May be back to the basic of the education is the solution, not only for the ranking but for the future of our country.