Friday, October 06, 2006

THES World Rankings 2006: Where We Stand

Ah... as much as I get "complaints" every time I put up a post on university rankings, on how frivolous the exercise is, the traffic volume on this site skyrockets. It looks like we are well on track to another record day today. :)

Well, unfortunately, I'm not part of the media who has obviously received advanced copies of the report, I'll have to wait patiently for the report to be published online next week to have a full view of the details. However, the rankings of Malaysian universities have been published today by various local print media. A summary of the Malaysian University Performance is as follows:
  • 185 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (289)
  • 192 Universiti Malaya (169)
  • 277 Universiti Sains Malaysia (326)
  • 292 Universiti Putra Malaysia (394)
So, Universiti Malaya (UM) managed keep itself within the Top 200 list by the skin of its teeth despite an overall shift in analysis in favour of universities in the United States and United Kingdom as suggested in my earlier blog post. However, UM suffered a double ignominy this time round. Firstly it dropped a further 23 spots on the ranking from 169th to 192nd, and secondly, it lost it's premier position as the top university in Malaysia to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) who beat UM by 7 spots at 185th.

Impressively, UKM climbed a massive 104 positions from 289th in the previous year and the bloggers here will definitely be interested in seeing the breakdown of the data which contributed to the commendable improvement.

Also interestingly, the new THES world rankings table appears to extend itself beyond just the 200 this year to include possibly another 100 universities, which accounted for Universiti Sains and Universiti Putra Malaysia being ranked at 277th and 292 respectively.

As argued previously in my review of the THES 2005 rankings table, specific positionings beyond possibly the top 100 universities are likely to fluctuate wildly due to the tiny points difference in the lower tier universities.
There's a gap of 70 points in "overall score" between no. 1 and no. 83, but only 9.2 points between no. 83 and no. 200. As an example, although Chulalongkorn University was ranked 48 places above Universiti Malaya, the difference in points was only 3.1...

Hence, it is my personal belief that for the THES rankings table, the top 50 positions maybe fairly accurate, whilst those nearer the bottom may fluctuate wildly due to more subjective data. However, this is purely an exercise meant to provide the estimated position of a particular university to serve as a guide for prospective candidates. It is a useful guide, but at the same time, should not be taken as the biblical truth. :)
Therefore, I'm agreeable with the Shanghai JiaoTung University's version of the rankings table, where universities are placed in blocks of 50s or 100s beyond the Top 100 universities.

If I were the UKM vice-chancellor, I would not rejoice or read too much at the massive increase in position just yet, as marginal differences in the subjective data such as peer review and employability will result in significant changes in the rankings placement. Similarly, for universities placed beyond the Top 200, USM and UPM, I'll expect them to fluctuate wildly in their positions i.e., by at least 30 places up or down in future reviews, unless of course, they did indeed attract some top class faculty members to the universities.

See also the latest critique on the latest Top 200 rankings table by Richard Holmes here. In addition, you can get a complete list of the Top 200 universities without details at the QS TopGraduate website. QS is the appointed partner of THES to compile the university rankings.

Anybody with an advanced copy of the detailed 2006 Rankings Table, it'll be much appreciated if you could email it to me :).


ah piau said...


The Star today (6 Oct 06)

“We focused on raising the university’s profile internationally. We also made a concerted effort to improve UKM’s website and consolidate the information there,” said Dr Mohd Salleh, who is currently chairman of the National Accreditation Board". - The Former VC.

I also discussed the same point in August

My point is that, we need to promote our universities. Our lecturers conduct researches and these must be made known to the world. eg the discovery of nipah virus by um professor. No more 'jaguh kampung' but Global. So with due respect to some bloggers, pls stop condemning UiTM for their global aspiration. May be we can start contributing ideas how we can contribute for the success of our universities. Be it UM, UKM, UiTM, UTAR or etc

Tony and Kian Meng already started it. So we contributed with sound and credible ideas and suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Among the local universities, UM's performance is the worst - its position dropped, while the other universities improved their respective positions, some dramatically (>100 places).

This is compliment of Hashim Yaacob, the former VC. A great pity he is not there to answer the drop.

Anonymous said...

UM now is not the top university in Malaysia again. I think it is a bit confusing to 2006 STPM students to choose either UKM or UM. LOL~!

ah boi said...

anon Fri Oct 06, 01:55:10 PM

Use your instinct.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest don't even think about applying local universities. Go out and see the world :)

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 05:53:25, if you are a parent, you will not give that advice to your child. You would prefer him/her to graduate first and earn an income before "go out and see the world" True or not?

Anonymous said...

Our UM rank 192 and Singapore's NUS rank 19? We starts off the same standard and level then. This also happen to Penang Free School and S'pore's Raffles Institution. Can we conclude that Singapore improves and better what British has left her but Malaysia has done worst? So we should start questioning what is so great about 1957 Merdeka and not to blame the British.

jonoave said...

As a current student in UKM, I've to say I'm immensely proud of my university. As I've stated in my previous opinions, I found that the education quality in my faculty at least, is quite acceptable. And definitely not as bad as complained by students of other local IPTAs. I've favourable opinions on most of my lecturers, though there are a few bad apples. And currently for my final-year research paper, I'm using some of the newer methods in the field, where this project was initiated by Stamford Universty.

ah piau: I would say I'm rather surprised by some of the replies I got from a few foreign studentsz who heard really good things bout UKM, whereby they decided to enrol here. I think our International PR department is really quite good in this aspect.

In my opinion, we shouldn't pass a blanket judgement on all our IPTAs, and credit should be given where it's due.

Anonymous said...

jonoave said...initiated by Stamford Universty.

Stamford Universty??? Ha, ha, ha ....... Apa ini?

Anonymous said...

As a member of staff in UKM I am happy to see us in the top 200. It is a bonus as we have been working hard on enhancing our profile and image. Effort has been made to consolidate research, internationalisation and quality assurance (RIQ). We are seeing the results of years of planning.

Kian Ming said...

I think jonoave meant StaNford University in Palo Alto, California, USA as opposed to Stamford College in PJ Jalan Barat, opposite the Lotus 24 hour mamak, Malaysia. Honest mistake, I thought Stanford was spelt with an M when I was younger.

Anonymous said...

Jonoave probably meant Stamford. After all, THES ranking is a farce, especially considering the fact that MIT, Caltech, and Yale are all lower ranked than Oxford. In any case, UM and UKM standards are way lower than any American school, despite its lofty position suggesting the opposite.

Husain Zaman said...

Lets not get too carried away by the THES ranking. I am an undergrad at NUS at even my lectures agree ( privately that is) with me that the the ivy league unis are all better than NUS. If u look at Dartmouth College its ranked outside the top 100 universities, yet its freshman is on par, well maybe slightly inferior, with Harvard's. The reason for the difference is beacuse Dartmouth focuses on undergraduate education. I am not saying that the THES ranking is useless, its just that the overall score does not truly reflect the performance of its different divisions. An undergrad experience at an Ivy League is miles better than one at any malaysian or for that matter a singaporean one.

Anonymous said...

I've got the full 200 list posted in my blog here. Check it out if you're interested.

Oh, btw, UKM scored 0 for citations/faculty score. UM score 1.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think the Bumi policy as long as it still around is only doing a disfavour to the Bumi itself, firstly is not fair to Bumi who are able and can make it without help to be label as "Bumi", they prefer to be non-Bumi. In todays term "Bumi" means weak, self denial and at time "hopeless". Life as a Bumi is like a worm creeping inside the shit, once outside the international stage it is like a servile walking with the head facing down.

cockle hunter said...

UM will be sliding down further and further....

Despite the very high number of professors there....

johnsee said...

"Howsy said...
Oh, btw, UKM scored 0 for citations/faculty score. UM score 1."

Believe me, as a PhD student in computer science, I often do thorough reviews to update myself on new literature and latest trends in renowned journals. I've ALMOST RARELY stumbled upon any paper contributed by our local univs in these SCI-indexed journals.

This score, IMHO is very important in ranking universities for research and education. Why should any university be even reasonably ranked (in the top 200) when their citation (work produced) and faculty (people produced) score is so incredibly low.

Personally, I have high regard of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Rankings, as I agree with the main focal criteria of ranking universities based on prizes (Nobel & Field), quality of alumni produced, research publication and citations (very important!) and institution size.

THES looks to me very shady with subjective criteria like peer review score (40%!!), and international student and faculty score (??). I believe these criteria are less than important. It's pointless if universities go on recruiting international students and faculty regardless of quality to improve on this score. Peer reviews are also highly biased and opinionated.

Though the Shanghai JT University Ranking has its own flaws (which seemingly tend to favour institutions with acclaimed history of revolutionary work in research), nevertheless, I regard it as my closest gauge of university quality.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 8.58 a.m, u really look like a fool 4 bringing up d subject of racism. n what's even more? u conclude that the term 'bumi' as some1 with negative attitudes. where d heck in world did u get this idea from? i guess, only shallow minded ppl have the same thinking as yours.

d Bumi policy is created by d government mainly 2 preserve d privilege of bumiputras. however, it should not be seen as discriminating. as a ukm student, i noticed that there's no gap between bumis n non-bumis in my university. every1 has d same opportunity in doing what they want, eg: applying scholarships, taking part in election, representing university in any competition n whatsoever. so, stop trying 2 make foolish controversy in this page. TQ

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 9.51 a.m
What contribute to the 192 vs 19 ranking between MU and NUS than? Your are just another fellow living under "self denial", you are always label as such.... so how are you going to get out of your cocoon?

Anonymous said...

hey anonymous 9.51 am
u should face d fact that education in s'pore n m'sia are totally different. in s'pore, even in secondary schools, those who apply to b a teacher should get a first-degree honour compared 2 m'sia that doesnt need such requirements. n the teachers' salary in s'pore is as much as a medical doctor can earn in m'sia. this is due 2 d fact that d country is wealthier compared 2 m'sia.
talkin' 'bout NUS, they r way much better since the lecturers there r mostly imported from d country where they r gd at. e.g: engineering lecturers from germany, biomedical lecturers from japan n so on. this can't b done in our country bcoz of d cost. furthermore, the NUS' annual grant is almost as same as d sum of our public universities' annual grant. so, can't u c how lucky they r compared 2 us? till then, plz think b4 u say. TQ

Anonymous said...

sorry, i, anonymous 4.51 pm is referring to anonymous 10.49 am n not 9.51 a.m (who is myself). TQ

Anonymous said...

'this can't b done in our country bcoz of d cost'

I beg your pardon, but I think the difference is because of the practice of true meritocracy and equal opportunities for everyone irrespective of background.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 9.51 a.m
Please don't call any one racise because the one who started the policy and supporter for Bumi Policy is the most racise. You have also given the answer to the problem by telling everyone why S'pore is ahead. So I have a question for you and that is if we have policy that is practise by S'pore don't you think we will improve and move ahead? Everyone knows that NUS and MU were cut from the same stone earlier, so as SIA and MAS. So where goes wrong? Why do you still support a policy that has gone wrong?

I am sorry for you because I believe you don't need the Bumi policy and you will still make it, because of very fact of the policy shortcoming and the price to pay is that you are label as one of can't except this labelling. Even if I don't say so, everyone else will and can you ask the international community to stop questioning and give you the NEP you think your brothers deserve?

Anonymous said...

My god the english in some of the comments is atrocious. Maybe some of the commenters should laran proper english first before commenting on the state of education in Malaysia, which needless to say is terribe, almost as terrible as their english. Have a nice time gentelemen.

Anonymous said...

In a country where standard are compromise to help the not so qualify, where nationalist dominates politics, standard are lower so that more can see better results and applicants turned away because your religion/race does not match. How many can be like anonymous 05:20 AM who has "Queen's English" standard?
We the tax payer pay for the 1st Son-in-law to Oxford and certainly the Son-In-low has little difficulties in English.

Anonymous said...

i just wanna respons to the above comments given..when u wanna talk about Bumi's priviledge, u've to look back at the history, at why the priviledge has been given in the first place, at 'who is the true nation of Malaysia' before the British came..compared to Singapore,Malaysia seems more patriotic to open herself to don't just condemn a system that might give benefit to a whole country eventhough u alone are better than the majority and i think this nothing to do at why UKM or UM are lower than NUS/OXFORD/HARVARD. and by the way, i think, if we wanna talk about why the Quality of Malaysia's education is so low i think we have to look at who hold the power in the Ministry. were they/was he a qualified person/s who is doing a very most effort in increasing our quality level now?well, if we think more,everything goes back to politics. and yes, economy is indeed one of the factor.Malaysia is not so a poor country-with all the natural sources and the oil-but where has all the money gone? and about the english language..i think that's not the main problem of the low the nations who neither english-blood person nor posses english-mother tounge, it's reasonable that our people not fluent in english. but that doesn't mean that we cannot succeed internationally. why..even everybody must speak japanese language if they wanna work in japan!!!

Anonymous said...

Bumi's priviledge and sons of the true soil? What kind of agument is this? Do you mean if some days in the future man have to abandon earth and seek a new planet than we have to give priviledge to the Americans, give them NEP, let them buy houses at 10% discount too? Now I know why is so urgent to send a Mala* to space but too bad he can't plant a jalur Gemilang on a Russian space ship, the flag on the moon looks like one but sorry is an American flag.

Anonymous said...

Okay, first let us take a look at the nature of this argument. We even have people butting in to say that the english used here is atrocious (Anonymous Oct 09, 02:05:20am). So, to point out the nature of the comments here, let us take a look at the one who says that the english here is bad.

"Anonymous said...
My god the english in some of the comments is atrocious. Maybe some of the commenters should laran proper english first before commenting on the state of education in Malaysia, which needless to say is terribe, almost as terrible as their english. Have a nice time gentelemen.

Mon Oct 09, 02:05:20 AM"

Now, if we take a good look at the accuser of bad english, we find that the accuser himself also speaks bad english. He does not speak Queen's English. Rather, he speaks "Engrish".

Now, "commenter" is an existing word, but is closer to slang. The proper english word if you really want to be particular about english is "commentator".

Also, it is "learn", not "laran". Another thing to remember is that in this particular case, one does not say "learn first". To do so is to murder the english language in cold blood. The correct way to say it is "first learn".

Finally, it is "terrible", not "terribe", and "gentlemen" rather than "gentelemen".

I think I have made my view on this argument clear enough.

Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

as a current UKM student, i
m so proud of my Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia ( National University of Malaysia )

UKM is my first choice since UKM's engineering especially civil engineering is considered the 1st place in malaysia ranking...

UKM certain engineering students (eg: civil engineering) can take dual programme which means can finish their final year degree at Germany

Wow, So, all of u r welcomed to UKM!