Only Two Pakistani Universities among top 200 Asian institutions

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By Ahmad Jawad

Pakistan is 4th largest country of Asia in population, yet only two universities of Pakistan could find ranking in top 200 universities of Asia. A Question mark on the quality of Higher Education in Pakistan?


No Pakistani university could make it to top 100 universities in Asia as per the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia University Ranking 2016, confirming the dismal state of the country’s higher education.

However, for the first time, the ranking has been expanded to 200 universities which allowed two Pakistani universities to feature in the list. Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad (QAU) stands at the 101st place among the top 200 while National University of Science and Technology (NUST) has been placed at 121 in the list.

India is the strongest South Asian nation in the rankings with eight universities among the top 100 and 16 among the top 200 while its neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh have just three institutions between them in the bottom half of the table. According to THE’s own analysis on the latest ranking Pakistan’s and Bangladesh’s institutions are hot on the heels of their regional rival, but investment in higher education remains an issue.

Singapore is home to the top two universities in Asia for the first time, while mainland China and Japan are the most-represented nations. Under THE Asia Ranking system, the universities are judged across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook – to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) topped the list while the City state’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) bagged the joint second place with China’s Peking University. As many as 55 universities of China have featured in the list. Iran has four universities in the list as compared to 11 from Turkey, six from Israel, three from Saudia Arabia, four from Malaysia, 24 from Taiwan and six from Hong Kong.

Commenting on the recent Asian universities ranking, Jamil Salmi, former coordinator of the World Bank’s tertiary education programme, says that there is still much room for improvement for the region’s institutions. “Pakistan had an excellent start in the 2000s, with significant reforms and higher levels of funding. Unfortunately, the political crisis of the past few years has also affected the higher education sector negatively.”

Ismail Badat, the British Council’s South Asia regional manager for higher and further education, agrees that South Asian universities need to “depoliticise the sector while raising standards of provision and quality assurance mechanisms”.

“In 2013, China produced 71,003 documents with international collaborations, compared to India with 17,484 and Pakistan with 4,278,” Badat says. The Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2016 are based on the 13 performance indicators as the THE World University Rankings, but have been recalibrated to reflect the attributes of Asia’s institutions.

According to the experts, the ranking of public sector universities announced by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has several flaws. Some education experts believe that the ranking should be carried out by independent bodies as per international practices and being funding agency, Higher Education Commission (HEC) should not be involved in any ranking of universities. They are of the view that in HEC ranking system, parameters being adopted by QS and Times Higher Education are mostly ignored that is why Pakistani universities are unable to compete with regional and global universities.

According to earlier announced  QS ranking, no Pakistani university could succeed to be included among top one hundred universities as compared to other Asian countries i.e 26 from China, 5 from Malaysia, 3 from Singapore, 18 from South Korea, 2 from Indonesia and 12 from Taiwan. Overall only 10 Pakistani universities were included among top 350 universities as compared to 23 from India, 34 from Taiwan, 13 from Thailand and 11 from Muslim country Indonesia.

As per QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings 2016 , Pakistani higher education system has been ranked at bottom  with 9.2 score  as compared to  China 83.5, South Korea 80.1, Singapore 62.3, India 60.9, Chile 46.7, Saudi Arabia 36.7, Turkey 26.1, Kazakhstan 25.1, Lebanon 19.8, Ukraine 16.6 , United Arab Emirates 10.9 scores.  Surprisingly, Pakistan lags behind from small country of smaller country, Estonia.

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