If university ranking is any guide, the highest seats of learning in Bangladesh hardly do justice to their reputation as pride of the nation. Under the latest published Asia University rankings for the year 2019 by the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) system, one of the three such global systems, Dhaka University (DU) has retained its premier position among the universities in Bangladesh but at 127th position, it is down the line. Even this is considered good news for the university because in defiance of common perception here, the Bangladesh University of Science and Technology (BUET) has been ranked 175th. Intriguingly, no other public university has been ranked among the top 350 but three private universities - the BRAC University, the North South University (NSU) and the United International University (UIU) have found their positions there.
The QS ranking is the assessment of performances by universities on the basis of teaching, research, nurturing employability and internationalisation. Other systems of university performance evaluation may emphasise a few other things but overall the differences are not atrociously wide. When Arts and Humanities are brought into focus, the Harvard University may top the list but when natural science gets the pre-eminence, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) gets the better of all other competitors. So far as the world university ranking is concerned, even the best Asian universities struggle to find their place among the top 50. The least said about universities of Bangladesh, the better. The DU performance itself speaks volumes of the higher studies in Bangladesh.
It would be reasonable to bring the focus closer. How do universities in India and Pakistan perform in the Asian context? India has failed to earn a place among the top 30. Its best ranking is 33rd by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay and altogether it holds eight positions among top 100 Asian universities. Pakistan has two with the best ranking at 87th. Clearly, Bangladesh needs to get its acts together in order to address the problems facing its tertiary education. That three private universities have achieved slots among the top 350 however shows the investment in such educational institutions is bearing some fruits at last.
Now in the context of the Asian best, Japan had led the pack for decades but no longer. Among the top 10, no Japanese university could find its place. Singapore once again tops the list with another securing the third position. This is quite a feat for the tiny island nation. China together with Hong Kong has six positions out of 10 and South Korea has also two of its entries among the top 10. While Indian IITs have been leading the universities there, it would have been fair if the BUET also did the same. Whatever may the reason behind the BUET and other science and technology institutions falling behind in the ranking should immediately be found out for remedial measures. The universities here should fairly compete with their counterparts in Asia at the least.
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