Friday, October 10, 2008

THES 2008 Rankings

The 2008 THES rankings are out as many of our readers have noted. Not surprisingly, no Malaysian university made it to the top 200. The top Asian university (not including Australia) is the University of Tokyo at no.18. NUS is ranked 30 and NTU cracked the top 100 at 77.

We've debated the pros and cons of university ranking systems many times in this blog. I'd also highly recommend the blog of Richard Holmes which monitors the methodology of the THES and other university rankings.

If I were the VCs of any of the top public universities in Malaysia (USM, UM, and UKM), I would refrain from playing the THES ranking game and set expectations low by saying things like 'there's no way that a Malaysian public uni can compete with the other universities in this list given that we're still a developing country, we're still trying to increase the % of PhDs among our faculty, we still have to improve our facilities etc...' I've said this before and I'll say it again, none of the public universities in Malaysia is anywhere near the standard of the top 500 universities in the US (where almost 100% of faculty have PhDs)

We'll have to wait until next week to see where the highest ranked Malaysian university appears (probably in the 300s I would guess) but it seems to me that it would be better for our public universities to try to achieve certain internally set targets e.g. 60% of faculty with PhDs and benchmark themselves to certain Asian universities (like our neighbors down south).


Anonymous said...

Why TOP 200? USA has Fortune 500 so we should have TOP 500? Why not in BolehLand????

University Malaya 246
UKM 250
UPM 320
UTM 356
USM 307
UITM ???

See, so many Malaysian Uni in TOP 500. Ha ha ha.... syoik sendiri ......

Anonymous said...

Other than HKU speeding to top 3 in Asia over these 2 years, and out of the blue, the rankings of the top 50 seem mostly stable now.

Top 5 in Asia:

1) Tokyo
2) Kyoto
3) University of Hong Kong
4) NUS
5) Hong Kong University of Sci & Tech

2 Japan, 1 Singapore, 2 Hong Kong. And only 1 of them which teaches in English. Maybe our politicians will now say "teaching in English doesn't get you on the list". Heh.

Anonymous said...

Why is it possible for Hong kong Unis to be better than Peking and Tsinghua Universities? They are the top 2 in China. Hong Kong Unis are good, but not that good!

Shawn Tan said...

According to the newspapers, UM (230) is the highest ranked Malaysian university.

One of my first jobs was to look at university ranking criteria and to find the best way to get ourselves listed on it within 10 years. After studying the criteria, I just told my boss that it was not going to be possible unless we make radical changes and spend lots of money doing it.

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the highly ranked universities are usually research based and may not be a good university to send your kids to, if you want to find good teachers. I'm still waiting for somebody to publish a teaching ranking as I suspect that many of the top universities will not fare as well there.

In addition, undergraduate education is pretty much similar in all universities worldwide. In this sense, the universities are like kindergartens. Everyone covers similar material, uses similar texts and studies similar things: the fundamentals (i.e. the ABCs).

Anonymous said...

They evaluated more than 5000 universities around the world (but) UM and UKM is in the list of top 300 or approx. top 6% out of more than 5K universities. For me.. not bad. Furthermore, there's no U from Iran listed but still, they manage to build nuclear plants and deadly weapon. Our IPTA just need more money and political will to compete. Just imagine with that little amount of money our IPTAs still can play in the league... don't ask IPTA to compete with NUS if IPTAs are not given enough money and the same policy.. for example.. hire a field prize winner as a staff like NUS. But with load of red tapes and AUKUs.. hehehe... we can stay in top 500 forever.

Anonymous said...

The irony is UM which was not selected as Malaysia's APEX university is ranked top Malaysian university again this year. USM (the Apex university) has in fact dropped in its ranking compared to last year. UM, by the way, moved up 16 notches. Hasn't the Ministry of Higher Education got some explaining to do with regard to the exclusion of UM from the APEX university list?

Anonymous said...

"...UM and UKM is in the list of top 300 or approx. top 6% out of more than 5K universities."

NUS is 30 out of 5,000. They are top 0.6%. I know, hard to compare, but still, if we take solace in being top 6% when being top 0.6% is our goal, I guess that is why we boleh tak-boleh.

Anonymous said...

The poor showing of our local universities shows the mentality of the nation's so called visionaries - DOWNWARDS!

Also, the lack of sharing, greed and selfishness covered with spiritual vigor and excuses has led to depreciating standards and morale - SIMILAR TO THE WORLD DEPRESSION.

Third, to think that the nation's bankers still try to hoodwink us with the fact that we are not in recession only gives us cause to think that the ship is submerged and sinking to the bottom - TRENCHES OF THE MARINAS.

Fourth, Darwin's theory that the fittest will survive holds weight and only those universities that are managed on meritocracy and performance will survive and lend credibility to their graduates. However, most of those graduates are with the civil service and are subsidized by the tax payer - PRIVATE SECTOR! If those wage earners in the private sector are retrenched then who will pay the civil service? - HMMMMM.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 10/10/2008 09:59:00 AM who said:

"2 Japan, 1 Singapore, 2 Hong Kong. And only 1 of them which teaches in English. Maybe our politicians will now say "teaching in English doesn't get you on the list". Heh."

only 1 of them teaches in english? which one? i see 3 unis that have been teaching in english since their unis' foundation. the japanese unis do not teach in english though, at least not at undergrad level.

Anonymous said...

Shawn Tan said, "....One of my first jobs was to look at university ranking criteria and to find the best way to get ourselves listed on it within 10 years. After studying the criteria, I just told my boss that it was not going to be possible unless we make radical changes and spend lots of money doing it."

It can be done without spending a huge amount of money. All we need is some creativity. Also strong will.

Anonymous said...

All Malaysian universities moved up a couple of ranks, except USM which is the APEX university. The judgement of the Ministry of Higher Education (in appointing APEX universities) is called into question. Wasn't the APEX university supposed to have the best potential of being in the world's top 200. Everyone is moving in the right direction, except the one backed my MOHE!

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's all a mind game.

See, UM is suppose to be the primer Uni in Malaysia but was not selected as the APEX U. So to prove MOHE wrong(out of spite,shame,etc), they will try their best to stay ahead of USM. At the same time, USM has this tremendous amount of pressure on itself to perform well.

If UM is selected as the APEX U, then probably the rest cannot uplift the stigma of always perceived as second best next to UM.

So, instead of only one Uni trying really hard, we have at least 2 that are trying (I am hoping that is the case here).

Anonymous said...

Even Thailand's uni is ranked higher than Malaysia.

Anonymous said...


UM from 346 to 230
UKM from 309 to 250
UPM from 364 to 320
UTM from 415 to 356
USM our Apex U from 307 to 313

A friend of mine said:
"Lets think of it this way. There are 100+ universities in the UK - only 28 UK universities are ranked above us. Still, there are 120 universities in the UK and we are better than 76.666% of them!"

More comparison:
Harvard established in 1636
Oxford 1117
Yale in 1701 and of course
NUS 1905, as old as our UM.
UKM established in 1970 but still in top 1% if we consider that there are more than 30,000 Universities out there.
Furthermore.. Singapore have Lee Kuan Yew & co and what we have, Sir/Mdm? I'm not a complacent Malaysian or seeking solace, but for me there's still hope.

Anonymous said...

Like I had said in my previous blog, the selection of USM as Malaysian APEX University is highly questionable. THE QS world University rankings 2008 once again has proven that UM (230) and UKM (250) are the top Malaysian Universities and not USM. Congratulation to UKM for such a significant improvement in the ranking. I heard some pro USM bloggers said that the better ranking of UM is just overrated. They claimed that USM is the best. It is the matter of opinion but where is the international recognition to justify that USM is Malaysian No. 1? Never in the history of THE QS world University rankings had USM ranked better than UM. We will see what is USM ranking in world THE QS University ranking in 2009. If USM continue to decline in ranking and fail to rank better than UM or UKM in 2009, then the government should review the potential of USM to reach Top 200 in 5 years time. what a disaapointing APEX university anyway. And where is UiTM in the ranking? UTM (356) made it to Top 400 this year but UiTM is still lost in the space.

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on. Not this again. They ranked 5000 uni's based on 6,354 responses to 'academic peer review' and 2,339 'employer response'. And we are here 'discussing' the results. The entire methodology is deeply flawed and skewed. Why are we getting so hanged up with invalid conclusions?

Anonymous said...

we don't seek this world we seek here after, we are top in reading Quran.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 12:10:00 AM,
Malaysian universities can appear to be better than "76.666% of UK universities" in the THES-QS ranking due to non-academic criteria used (foreign academics, foreign students ratio for example). Will be good to study the detail of the ranking before we come to any conclusion.
Agree to a great extent with Anon 11:49:00 AM that the "entire methodology is deeply flawed and skewed". The research head of QS has remarked in TheStar news report (10th October)that Malaysian universities are not in the Top 200 due to poor research output (lacks in quality).

Anonymous said...

What is that? Maybe ranking mistake? We had many GOLDs at last year Geneva Innovation Award

Anonymous said...

Ranking mistake again? Are you going to tell everybody that if USM ranked at 500 in the world, it is still a ranking mistake? So Harvard is No. 1 every year. I suppose it is a ranking mistake as well. Or shall we put USM as No. 1 in the world based on pro USM bloggers ranking? Where is the international recognition for USM? USM is not even listed in Shanghai JiaoTong ranking in 2008. Are we going to say ranking mistake again? Many gold medals are nothing but where is the nobel prize? Where are the many publication and citations of USM in comparison to Havard? I am not attacking our APEX University but if USM continue to show such a decline in ranking, then better become Jaguh Kampung unrecognized by International organizations. The question is where is the International recognition for USM especially with its APEX University status? 2009 we will see what happen to USM ranking as USM had promised they will deliver after receiving APEX status.

Anonymous said...

If international student attraction or population is taken into account, we do not fare badly. We have a good segment of Arabs (= UAE = Dubai, Libya etc) students in Penang. Using the British terminology, we are "fully subscribed" like Sir Walter Raleigh, his classes are always fully subscribed, overflowing to the corridors.

Anonymous said...

Correction: UM was previously 246.

Marc Ng said...

thx 4 postin this article, at least i know where NOT 2 study after i completed my pre-u.

Anonymous said...

Malaysian unis are jokes. They are race-based -- that's a big disadvantage already, low/non existent research base and lousy professors with no PhDs. If we allow more chinese professors I guarantee quality will increase. So this bumi bullshit is to blame for failed education policy producing low quality graduates whose degrees are toilet paper quality.


Anonymous said...

Malaysian unis are jokes. They are race-based -- that's a big disadvantage already, low/non existent research base and lousy professors with no PhDs. If we allow more chinese professors I guarantee quality will increase. So this bumi bullshit is to blame for failed education policy producing low quality graduates whose degrees are toilet paper quality.


Anonymous said...

Many excellent Professors in reputed universities around the world have no PhD. This is not the problem and it would not affect quality. The most important things are:

1)honesty in imparting what they really know
2)ability to teach students how to use or make use of knowledge in real life.

What is the point of quantitative churning of PhDs, if the utility is just for:

1)ostentation or ranking purposes that a university has many lecturers with PhDs, but the graduates face unemployable or unemployment situations

2)teaching no useful real life knowledge and helping students join the unemployable or unemployment markets.

Normally, the academia would argue that a university's role is catholic; it trains scientists not technicians... well, well, there goes everything... end product = unemployable or unemployment.

We must face the reality on-hand and take the solution in-hand.

Anonymous said...

There are some universities posting their Profile of Experts/Expertise, lecturers who just graduated and having no record of hands-on working experience in their so called expertise. How could one be an expert just by reading or listening and passing examinations without practical real life hands-on?

The only field possible this way could be a singing career. Still one could not claim to be an expert without the users' or customers' acclaims.

One criteria of a good university could be the substantive and gainful independence of its graduates.

The graduates must be able to breakthrough the employment, unemployable and unemployment barriers to become self-employed and self-sufficient if the situation warrants or justifies.

This means they could and should not blame others except themselves for being unemployable non-substantive employment or unemployment.

University Ranking is only good for marketing purposes and not true livelihood concerns of its customers.

The graduates must be really clever and smart, not pretending to be clever or smart like a parrot.

Cicero says, "It's not in the stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings."

Anonymous said...

How can Harvard be top?! Their grads are among these "top schools" who just gave us the sub-prime! This is so wrong!

Anonymous said...

I don't believe this ranking. Just look at the HK Unis. All of them better than Tsinghua and Peking. Hello! How is this even possible? HK Unis are good, but they probably are nearer the 50s than the top few! Is it they "trade votes" in the peer review section?

Anonymous said...

Tony, here is an MBA ranking done by the Economist magazine.

Sadly, again, no Malaysian MBAs on the list of top 100.

Anonymous said...

Harvard MBA ranks :: 12
UPenn Wharton ranks :: 17

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology ranks :: 11 ????????!!!

University of Manchester :: 60
Universoty of Bath :: 63
Boston U : 71
Purdue :: 75

University of HK :: 59?!?!?!?!

Something not very correct here right? These HK fellas must really be cheating!

Anonymous said...

Two Malaysian scholars laid a very strong foundation for the University of Hong Kong (UHK) more than 36 years ago

World famous Chemistry Prof Rayson Huang left MU to become the Vice-Chancellor of Nanyang University in 1969.
He was appointed Vice-Chancellor of UHK in 1972.

World famous History Prof Wang Gungwu left MU for Caberra University in 1969. He succeeded Prof Rayson Huang at UHK in 1986.

UHK, the oldest university located on the former British Colony is an English Chinese-based university.
UHK standards are very high and well-known among members of the British Commonwealth.

Many Malaysians studied at UHK during the good old days because the tuition fees as well as the costs of living are affordable,
and also HK is near home.

Anonymous said...

So we Malaysians win Harvard, INSTEAD, UPENN hands down? =)

Anonymous said...

Currently Wang is University Professor at the National University of Singapore, and also Chairman of the Managing Board of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Anonymous said...

My contention is not on the illusions of competing ranks or rankings. Of course, it is important to be competitive in time, and a benchmark in the world of education.

We are having real situational problems of churning out graduates who are unemployable, unemployed or unable to obtain jobs commensurate with their so-called "abilities". Ability means it must have practical utility for the working world.

Most new graduates are dependent on employments and if they could not get one, they do not know how to use, could not use or unable to prove their "abilities" learnt from the universities to be independent entrepreneurs.

Why? They are not properly inducted into the expectations and realities of the life streams. They are filled up to the roof of the ivory tower with rocketing expectations and hopes of grandeur - in the ninth cloud.

Such is the education system. A non-proactive dependent parrot system, except for licensing courses like medicine, law, dentistry, accountancy etc.

The graduates have to face future shocks and become misfit because they are the products of the University of Useless Knowledge.

They graduated with high hopes. So were their parents. Once, disillusioned, they are at a loss and nothing to look forward now. They blame everyone except their alma mater and themselves.

The nation and the institutions must address these critical situations as a priority.

Let whatever the rankings be. It's not a do or die matter. But a despondent person or misfit is a life, society and national concern.

We know our world best; we are still the 3rd world. But, we are moving forward.

Let us not walk on space when we could not even wobble properly on earth; a waste of resource.

The time will come for us to be Number One when we stay on the RIGHT FOCUS and do the RIGHT THINGS.

Everything is Timing. Timing is Everything.

How to be Number One outside when we are not truly Number One inside. We must be honest to ourselves before we can to honest to others.

A hungry man is an angry man. An angry man has no loyalty!

Anonymous said...

President from Harvard, Fed Chairman from Princeton, Lehman Brothers executives from MIT. What does that equate pompous arogant and blinded individuals that are running the world economy to the ground. And if Krugman is such a great economist why isn't he diverting the US in the first place from this mess of inflation, unemployment and what nots. For peats sake the Nobel Prize is also questionable. Award to their own so as to keep their monies in their turf.

Anonymous said...

A day before the RM was pegged against USD, the PM had a close door meeting or debate or consulting with Paul Krugman in Putrajaya

A day before the fuel price was raised the PM, Ministers and Officials had a meeting or consulting with Prof Danny Quah of LSE during the latter's lecture tour to KL.

Prof Paul Krugman is the Nobel Prize 2008 Economics Laureate. His work is on Free Trade and Globalization.

Prof Danny Quah is world famous for his work on the Bubble Economy and Subsidies.

Prof Danny was a former Malaysian and Penangite. He understands our situations very well.

Both academics are experts in their own ways.

Government and Politics are not their fields.

What they write and feel right must also be similarly perceived, believed, received and acted tight by government or authorities concerned.

Give the Professors the respect for spending so much life time, livelihood and prime years pursuing their respective vocations.

Anonymous said...

I think THES ranking accidentally left out UITM in the list of the top universities.
The staff and students should protest and have public demonstrations for this inadvertent act.

Anonymous said...

There is no need for THES to rank UiTM or vice-versa because the latter has a No. 47 slot under the category of MEGA UNIVERSITY. It has a population of more than 100K enrolments.

This, per se, speaks volume for the university to the world at large.

Among the MEGA Universities in the world it is within the top 50 positions.

This way, the agenda or objective of being one of the largest universities in the world by population is fulfilled.

THES is meant for other categories, objectives and agenda.

Now, do we still need THES when our agenda, objectives or problems of unemployment have been not be tackled at the basics?

Steve Covey says, "First Things First"

CSK said...

hehehe..Najib and my university are at No.80,

Anonymous said...


N was from NotU. Which year THES list you are talking abt.

If same and he accepts, then congrats... could ask him for recommendation to dpm...

Anonymous said...

To me any university academically excelled recognision but not on the basis of financial strength.
Look at UCL
world ranking 7
but subject wise as follows
engineering and information technology -none

lfe sciences and biomedicine 25
natural sciences none
social sciences 31

arts and humanities 29

How come it became world no 7 with not outstanding academic credentials compared to atleast 20 universities above it? so ranking is not based on academic credentials alone and i cannot treat it as fair.

Anonymous said...

Bodohland uni will always be %$#ed whether they're run by Chinese, Malay, or Indian. The bottom line is the people are all racist and completely in love with themselves.

It's a third world sewer, and its because EVERYONE is useless. It's about time Bodohlanders stopped pointing the finger at the other race and realized that all you morons are part of the problem in the sewer.

Anonymous said...

Whine, whine, bitch, bitch...I'm better than you, how can they be better than me, my race is better than that race.....

Isn't this the usual brainless moronic background noise that has become so common from a third world gutterland like Malaysia?

It would be nice to know if these whiners are at all academically competent themselves.

Are they a bunch of mere local jaguh kampungs with PhDs and other degrees who find it necessary to scream to get attention and to preach "quality" and hope, as a result, they are perceived as possessing this trait ?

Have these whiners published their work in proper peer reviewed journals themselves? DO their work even get cited by their peers?

Are these whiners employed as professors/faculty in one of the fantastic institutes that they so like to brag about (I see Harvardm UCL, Imperial etc), or are they just a bunch of losers who can only get a job in toilets like UM/UPM/....TARC?

Or are they mere shithead students who are struggling towards their degrees but are shameless enough to think they knows it all when the reality is they're way down the bottom of the pit in the academic food chain?

The bottom line is unless these bitches are as good as what they go on about over here, they should point their fingers at themselves first.

Stop whining and show evidence of why you're better. If not, shut the fuck up because you're just a loser like the rest.

Anonymous said...

First, concentrate on core competencies and objectives.

Make sure the graduates are of utility to themselves, then and only then they could be of benefits to employers, society and nation. Churning out many PhDs per year is meaningless, when the outputs are questionable apart from the shelving of their "useful and practical" theses. It does not prove anything wiser except that the works were carried out as work to obtain the degrees.

Second, the graduates must have breakthrough minds and actions. They must be versatile, agile and capable.

a) Positioning

Better spend the money to engage at least one Nobel Prize winner in the faculty. This would position the faculty to the world at large. I remember many years ago, Oxford invited Mohammed Ali to be Professor of Poetry when the latter was at his prime. That was objective and creative marketing.

Wanton churning of PhDs at every corner of the university precinct would not create much utility impact except perhaps improving the ranks in THES which is not the do and die matter at this stage of our development.

b) Breakthrough Minds and Actions

Graduates should develop breakthrough capabilities rather than hugging on traditional classroom thinkings, mindsets and following the Joneses. Well, it could be argued that Copycat is a faster way to achievements. Yes, but after that objective copying, a subjective situation could not be perfectly or always copied for success.

c) Peer Review

This would justify copying the patterns of instructions, curricula, behaviour of renowned universities, institutions, societies, successful groups etc. The students should be exposed to handling their projects in good faith and render it a utility; not merely to fulfil their degree requirements. Analytical and creative thinkings are difficult to teach, but the students must be exposed to the experiences. Just keep thinking and be creative. Much could be gained through environmental exposures. Experiences are important; exposures are the in-things.

Below are some creative breakthrough thinkings and original products of the minds put into actions.

1) Sarung Index & Poverty Measures by Royal Prof Ungku Aziz
2) Pegging the Ringgit by Dr M, et al
3) Weightless Economy by Prof Danny Quah of LSE, etc.

Last, there is no need to worry about THES. The day will come for true recognition to be accorded not only by THES, Shanghai Jiao-Tong, but also the Nobel Committees.

Una Mente Labor Omnia Vincit

Anonymous said...

penang tionghua,
"Below are some creative breakthrough thinkings and original products of the minds put into actions.

1) Sarung Index & Poverty Measures by Royal Prof Ungku Aziz
2) Pegging the Ringgit by Dr M, et al
3) Weightless Economy by Prof Danny Quah of LSE, etc."
You must be joking (?)
What's so creative about (1)? And (2) isn't original. Hong Kong has used this....

Anonymous said...

1) One sarung one is not so poor, no sarung he would be in naked poverty .

2) et al = and others, hence not totally owned by him.

Dav DiDi said...

I try to open the page and its loading until now

Anonymous said...

More rankings. Of course we are not in there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for information


Anonymous said...

I really don't understand what happen to our APEX university. THE QS Asian University Ranking 2009 was realeased and here is the overall result of Malaysian Universities.

UM (39)
UKM (51)
USM (69)
UTM (82)
UPM (90)
MMU (171)

And here is the result of Thailand Universities.

Mahidol University (30)
Chulalongkorn University (35)

UM ranked lower than Thailand Mahidol U? Come on this cant be true. And what happen to USM? Having APEX status until now and never able to beat Thailand universities? Oh come on! 5 years to be in TOP 50 in the world? Looking at the ranking this year and next year, I would say just forget about it as our APEX University will never get into it. The reason is simple. Beat the thai Universities first but that is almost impossible!