Monday, October 31, 2005

UM should never have been in the Top 100 in the first place

Having examined the content of the 2005 THES rankings and comparing it to the 2004 THES rankings, it is clear that UM should not have been ranked in the Top 100 in the 2004 THES rankings in the first place. Tony blogged about it before, and I want to highlight this year's numbers. Unlike the 2004 THES rankings, this year's final scores were normalized to 100 instead of 1000. In the 2004 rankings, UM achieved a final score of 166.4, but 40% of this score (68 out of 166.4) came from a very high mark on the International Student Score which would have made UM the 6th most international university in the world. Tony and I suspected that this was perhaps a miscoding on the part of those who compiled the numbers perhaps because they counted Chinese, Indian and other non-Bumiputera students in UM (as well as USM) as foreign students.

The 2005 THES rankings apparently have corrected this error. UM receives a paltry score of 7 out of a 100 (normalized against the LSE, the most international university in the world) instead of the 68 out of a 100 it received in the 2004 THES rankings. If UM had scored 68 in the International Students Score again in the 2005 THES rankings, it would have had a final score of 28.2 which would have made it jointed 103 (tied with SOAS and Leeds University in the UK). This is not to far off from the 89th position it achieved in 2004 and only constitutes a difference of 1 point on the final overall scale in the 2005 rankings.

If UM had scored an equivalent of the 7 it scored in 2005 in the 2004 rankings on the International Student Score, it would have achieved a total score of 104.1 (normalized against Harvard) and a ranking of 198 (very close to the 189th ranking that Tony gave to UM based on a hypothetical score of 10 for UM in the 2004 rankings).

If the VC's of both UM and USM had been more careful in analyzing the basis of their rankings in the top 100 and top 200 universities in the world, they would have realized that their respective positions were based on miscoded or miscalculated scores. It is no surprise that USM has dropped off the rankings completely since it received an even higher International Student Score of 78 in 2004 (4th in the world). Perhaps the UM VC was aware of this fact when he hinted that he was thinking about allowing a foreign intake of 5% at the undergraduate level.

I totally agree with Tony's take that because the score differentials outside the top 50 and especially at the bottom of the table are so small, it is hard to compare between the 150th and the 180th ranked universities (point differential of 2.3, smaller if one didn't normalize against Harvard), what peeves me is the fact that UM trumped the fact that it was ranked in the top 100 last year and then casually says that it is not worried that it has fallen out of the top 100 this year. If this is the case, why trump the fact that you were 89th last year?

I was joking with my wife that UM could just re-use the banners they made last year by changing the 1 in 100 to a 2. And if they fall out of the top 200 list? Maybe hope for a list that publishes the top 300 and change the 2 into a 3.


bt3on9 said...

169th is already considered too high a place for UM... really...

clk said...

One thing we can all learn from this whole episode is diversification in a university is very important for various reasons.

They should be diversification in all aspects from academia, students representation, faculty members, foreign representation etc.

For this reason alone, UiTM and UTAR must diversify its student base actively. Time for a diversification scholarship and admissions criteria!

daniel said...

Even if they fall out of the top 200 list, these shameless people would simply change their tune and say that they are still better than some obscure university in Timbuktu.

dan said...

It's amazing how the UM authorities can put up self-glorifying banners and blow their trumpets without even looking at the possible miscalculations in 2004, and in 2005 label the ranking criteria "inconsistent" and "irrelevant" (quoting YB Fu Ah Kiow). Stop living in denial and do something about it!

Anonymous said...

Could any one talk about the methodology use in this and any other ranking excercise on this site, what are their implications?

Also there are so many good European Universities--with top brains--does the methodology applied accentuate an anglo-saxon bias?

-- Old Man