As a follow up on Part III, whereby Ong Kian Ming highlighted the fact that the manner which certain points for Universiti Malaya may be "misguided", I'll discuss these items in greater detail.
Universiti Malaya (UM) achieved an overall score of 166.4 to justify it's 89th placement, while Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) acquired a total score of 149.6 to achieve the placement of 111th.
UM's score of 166.4 comprises of 50(out of 1000) for peer review score, 29(100) for International Faculty Score, 68 (100) for International Student score and 15(400) for Faculty-Student ratio score.
USM's score of 149.6 comprises of 26 for peer review score, 27 for international faculty score, 78 for international student score and 15 for faculty-student ratio score.
From the above breakdown, one can clearly conclude that despite the fact that the international student score comprises only 5% of the overall score, it played a disproportionately large role in raising the scores achieved by UM and USM. The international student score worked out to be 40.9% and 52.1% of the total score achieved by UM and USM respectively.
The THES rationale for including the "International Student Score" as part of the criteria for ranking universities is that:
More than 2 million undergraduates now study outside their own country worldwide, and this number is growing at about 20% per annum. A university's ability to attract them is one measure of its ambition and is captured by a measure of its percentage of overseas students.I would disagree with the criteria used because a university's popularity with overseas students could be due to various other factors not related to the university's academic credentials. However, that will be for another discussion at another time. :)
The universities' achievement in the international student score when compared to the other universities in the ranking table is particularly fantastic. In fact, there are only 3 universities faring better than both UM and USM - London School of Economics (100), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) (80) and Curtin University of Technology (79). For RMIT and Curtin, these universities are renown to enrol a large number of foreign students often making up more than 40% of the total university intake. In fact both UM and USM "outperform" Monash University (64), which has more than 30% of its students originating from foreign countries. As an "international university", USM is ranked 4th while UM, 6th(!). Wow.
Do UM and USM both have enrolments of more than 30% of foreign students? With so many "qualified" Malaysian struggling for places in local universities, it would indeed be major scandal indeed if we enrolled more than 1,500 foreign students a year at each of our public universities. The fact is, neither UM or USM have any significant foreign student enrolment, except maybe at masters or doctorate levels.
So the question is, how did UM and USM score so highly in the "International Student Score"? Our intelligent guess is, the statistics compilers at THES mistook Chinese and Indians at our local universities as "foreigners". I believe that someone should ask our very proud vice-chancellor of UM whether there is a mistake in calculating the foreign student score for the THES ranking system. It may just save him some future embarassment.
If our assumption is correct, then the next question to ask will be - where will UM and USM be placed in the rankings table if the international students score be amended? Let's look at some comparative numbers:
- National University of Singapore (NUS) which has a large population of Malaysians, Indians and mainland Chinese students scored a 46.
- Oxford and Cambridge University which has a significant foreign population from all over the world scored on 18 and 19 respectively.
- University of California, Berkeley scored a lowly 7.
Let's be generous and award both UM and USM a 10 for their international student score, their totals will hence be amended to 108.4 and 81.6 respectively. USM will have fallen way off the top 200 universities (lowest score: 102.9), while UM will be ranked 189th.
Is there more mistakes in the calculation? Oh, very likely so - UM and USM scored 29 and 27 respectively in the "International Faculty Score", i.e., no. of foreign lecturers and academics teaching at the universities. That score is only marginally poorer than NUS and Nanyang Techological University (NTU) of Singapore's score of 35 and 32 respectively. Both universities are known to recruit worldwide for the top academics to teach and research in Singapore. We all know that the local public universities do not engage that many foreigners to teach in our faculties - did the statisticians make the same mistake as the international student score above, categorising all Chinese and Indians as non-Malaysians?
As a simple comparison, Beijing and John Hopkins University managed only 9 and 16 respectively in the international faculty score. Would UM do better than that? A marginal correction of only 7 points from 29 to 22 will drop UM out of the world top 200 universities altogether.
Please note that I'm not providing this analysis to make anyone at Universiti Malaya or the Minister of Higher Education look bad. I have the utmost respect for the UM top students whom I recruit practically "religious" for my firm. I'm publishing this analysis to make sure we are fully aware of the existing state of our higher education standards so that we can take all the necessary measures to get back on our feet.
Instead, our UM VC being all arrogant and complacent of the "commendable" 89th placing (which was achieved purely due to the international students and faculty score) and thinking that the top 50 position is within easy reach in the next few years. Anyone has any ideas how we can "inform" our UM VC?