The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings has already released the list of 700 esteemed universities across the world for this year. Four universities from the Philippines made it to the recognized list, but none made it to the top 300.
University of the Philippines (UP) remains the leading university in the country, followed by Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), and University of Santo Tomas (UST). The last two institutions fell under the same ranking bracket.
UP dropped 16 points from its ranking in 2011 and landed on 348th. ADMU fell from rank 360 to the bracket 451-500 while UST still placed in the 601+ bracket like last year.
DLSU has left the bracket ranked 551-600 and has now entered the 601+ bracket. Starting 2009, the University has been falling one bracket lower yearly. DLSU fell under the bracket 401-500 back in 2009 and 451-500 in 2010.
According to the official site of the QS World University Rankings, it started and had its first compilation of rankings in 2004. It is designed to present a multi-faceted view of the relative strengths of the world’s leading universities. The ranking is based on data, covering four key areas of concern: research, employability, teaching and internationalization.
Currently, it considers over 2,000 universities, and ranks over 700. The top 400 are ranked individually, while those placed 401 and over like DLSU-M are ranked in groups. There are six indicators used in compiling the rankings: Academic reputation (40 percent), Employer reputation (10 percent), Faculty/student ratio (20 percent), Citations per faculty (20 percent), International faculty ratio (5 percent) and international student ratio (5 percent).
The ranking results last year caused a stir among politicians and student groups due to the significant drops in the rating of universities in the QS. Critics blamed the consistent budget cut in higher education for the drop in rankings. State universities and colleges (SUCs) depend on the funds allocated by the government for operation and miscellaneous expenses that are incurred in the entire course of the academic year. Only one SUC, UP, made it to the QS list. The rest of those that made the cut are private universities.
Behind the numbers
The criteria used by QS to rate universities worldwide pose a significant edge for public foreign universities that receive funding from the government. Research, which can cost millions of pesos, is a challenging area that universities in the Philippines aim to excel in, but lack of resources leave them lagging behind their foreign counterparts. Out of the four universities, only DLSU and UP were rated by QS as having “moderate research intensity”. ADMU and UST had “limited or none”.
Director for the University Research Coordination Office (URCO) Madelene Sta. Maria shares that DLSU’s research is either funded by internal funds of the University or by private corporations and alumni. Since DLSU is a private university, it does not receive endowments from the government. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), however, is funding some research initiatives of the University. These are normally focused on the fields of engineering and the sciences. Grants are also given by the Commission on Higher Education and other international institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and National Institutes of Health, U.S.A., to name a few. Other grant-giving agencies and bodies affiliated with development also pour in considerable support for projects by DLSU researchers. For A.Y. 2010-2011 alone, DLSU incurred a total research expenditure of about P221 million.
Moreover, rather than focusing on the volume of published research outputs, QS takes into account research strength through citation. The University ensures that outputs are subjected to sets of peer reviews and evaluations by experts to maintain quality papers. URCO also conducts interdisciplinary research workshops for faculty members and graduate students.
In individual research capacity, DLSU has been excelling in the field of Chemical Engineering, besting ADMU, UP, and the UST. This is in terms of the number of publications by subject area from 1985 to Feb. 2012. The said statistics are derived from Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database of research literature. In the areas of Environmental Science, Engineering, and Physics and Astronomy, the University placed second after UP.
According to Sta. Maria, research has to be improved in the area of Social Sciences, having published only 81 research outputs in the said area.
Dissemination of research outputs through publication is also seen as a challenge. Publication, according to the URCO Director, is not a required component of the research process, but faculty members are highly encouraged to complete it. Publication of outputs in journals and other mediums is vital to receive high readership and citation.
DLSU President-Chancellor Br. Ricky Laguda attests that the QS Rankings do not completely assess the quality of academic institutions.
“It doesn’t capture what we do in terms of community engagement. It doesn’t capture how Lasallian mission want to capture its objectives,” declares Laguda. The amount of contribution of a university to the nation is not necessarily an absolute component of the criteria used by QS for evaluation.
“Although it has its own valid measures, we can learn more from it. I submit to it that we can look at some of the measures that are valuable to us,” he says.
When asked if he has any goals in line with the DLSU’s place in the rankings, Laguda says that he envisions the involvement of all faculty members and students in research. He also wants research be the main component of learning for students and that it be used as a solution to the problems faced by the society.
According to its official statement, DLSU acknowledges the value of different surveys that rank academic institutions worldwide using various criteria. These appraisals allow the University to view itself from different perspectives. However, it is the policy of DLSU not to engage in the active participation of such exercises.
Nevertheless, the University remains committed to its mission of being a resource for Church and Nation, focused on academic excellence and holistic development of the youth under its care.
In the QS Asian University Ranking, DLSU ranked 142nd. UP placed at 68th, ADMU at 86th, and UST at 148th.