University University Feature

DLSU lands in 2019 THE World Rankings

It’s one for the books.

De La Salle University (DLSU) made its debut appearance in this year’s World University Rankings published by Times Higher Education (THE), settling in the 800-1000 bracket, making it the sole private university in the Philippines to do so, and one of only two Philippine universities on the list.


Research is key

The rankings make use of 13 performance indicators, which are divided into five major areas: teaching (30 percent), research (30 percent), citations (30 percent), international outlook (7.5 percent), and industry income (2.5 percent). Unlike other published lists, the THE World University Rankings places stronger emphasis on research.

In an interview with The LaSallian, DLSU Chancellor Br. Bernie Oca FSC stressed that the research requirements were crucial to DLSU’s inclusion in this year’s list. “One of the criteria is that the university, to be in the top 1000, has to have at least 200 publications in these top-tier journals for five consecutive years. It’s only [University of the Philippines] and DLSU that have met that. That’s very, very difficult.” he explained.

Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Dr. Raymond Tan further shared that having DLSU included in the THE rankings was already part of the competitiveness initiative launched in 2015 when Dr. Gerardo Janairo was still the sitting Chancellor. “[It] was intended basically to improve our standing in the rankings, and we identified at the time also that there’s the possibility—because we declared about 10 years ago—the aspiration to become a research university,” he elaborated. At the time, they had identified THE as one of the targets, especially since no Philippine university has yet made the ranking.

Oca also asserted that further developing the University’s research output is one of the strategic plans he intends on continuing from the previous administration, citing that DLSU is already at an advantage as one of the top schools in the country in terms of having papers published in top-tier journals.


One of many milestones

This is not the first time DLSU has made a mark on the world stage. For the past few years, the University has also consistently ranked in another world university rankings list published by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), where it fell to the 801-1000 bracket earlier this year.

The Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences and Management programs of the University, meanwhile, have also been inducted in the subject rankings also published by QS, both making it into the 401-450 bracket as of 2018.

Interestingly, DLSU set a similar record back in 2006 when it was the highest ranking private Philippine university to be inducted in the then THE-QS World University Rankings, landing in the 392nd place out of 500 universities.



However, the University historically has not actively participated in these rankings due to the high costs for undergoing the evaluation process. This then results in zero scores for items that would have needed inputs from the evaluation. Further, past administrations have felt that the methodology employed does not accurately reflect the performance of the institution, but admitted that they do serve as a benchmark to compare against the performance of other universities.

Tan echoed this sentiment, adding that the methodology of QS does not focus on research. He also pointed out that while both use similar methods in gathering their data, which are through surveys, the key difference is THE puts more weight on hard statistics such as the University’s research budget, for instance.

Because of this, DLSU has instead played an active role in seeking international accreditation, such as the Programme Assessment from ASEAN University Network Quality Assurance (AUN QA), with 15 departments in the University being officially assessed as of this year. According to Oca, the University is expected to reassess two of its programs under AUN QA in the near future.

Aside from the AUN QA, Oca also shared that the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology, another international accreditation body, will be arriving this October to review programs in the Gokongwei College of
Engineering (GCOE).


What’s next?

As DLSU has finally made the list, Tan stressed that they intend to have DLSU rise in the rankings in the future and keep up with the growth of other universities around the world. “What we have to keep in mind is that everyone on that list wants to be better,” he remarked.

Tan also identified this as the biggest challenge at the moment since the other universities on the list are also striving to improve, and it is hard to determine how fast they are improving. “If we just say, ‘mission accomplished’, just bank on the euphoria, you’ll gradually slip down the rankings,” he added.

Aside from DLSU, Tan also highlighted the need to have more universities from the Philippines be included in the rankings, stressing that having more would give the country better exposure in a global landscape.

However, as the results were only recently announced, he admitted that they would need to first further understand the scores in order to identify their next steps, and is currently glad that DLSU has
made the list.


Reports from Gershon Dela Cruz, Maxine Ferrer & Danielle Aglubat

By Frank Santiago

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