The primary task of universities the world over is to create knowledge and expand the horizon of human perceptions on animate and inanimate worlds. On that count higher studies have no limit and the aspirations of both students and scholars are sky-high. Now how the highest seats of learning pursue their objectives is what really differentiate between the very best, the average, the mediocre and the below standard. The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2022 --- its 18th edition --- released on June 8 has tried to evaluate 1,300 universities of the world on the basis of their performances. The UK-based higher education analyst, the most consulted university ranking, evaluates universities on six metrics such as academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio and international student ratio.
Whether these criteria comprehensively capture the quality and extent of knowledge addition to the existing limit may be debatable but about one thing there is no doubt that they prove effective to assess and analyse the effectiveness of the system of education in line with the market demands. The QS ranking has traditionally been disappointing for South Asia. Only three Indian institutions have figured in the top 200 with the Indian Institute Technology (IIT) Bombay making to the 177th slot. A total of eight Indian highest seats of learning and three from Pakistan are among the top 500. Sadly, Bangladesh has none within this range where each university has a position. The University of Dhaka (DU) and the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) are way behind and placed in a bracket between 801 and 1,000. Two private universities find their places in the next category of 1,001-1,200. Compare this with the Asia's best the National University of Singapore (NUS) ranked as high as 11th. China captures the 17th position with its Tsinghua University. Even Kazakstan's Al-Farabi Kazakh National University is ranked two notches higher than the Indian best performer at 175th. Notably, King Abdulaziz University (KAU) improves its position by 34 steps to capture 109th position in the world.
Clearly, universities in Asia and even Africa are bettering their positions consistently but those in Bangladesh are failing to do so. The pandemic has shown why a university at the top stands taller. To its credit the Oxford University has developed the Astrazeneka vaccine in collaboration with a Swedish pharmaceutical company named AstraZeneka and this is among many such inventions like rapid testing technology and ventilator. The Oxford University's research base is one of the strongest among universities whereas universities in Bangladesh cannot even use the meagre allocation for research.
If employability of university graduates is considered, more than 90 per cent of them from the top universities get employment almost immediately after graduation, whereas this is a pathetic picture for graduates from universities in Bangladesh. Big business houses come forward with funds for collaborative ventures with reputed universities in the West, but this is a rare occasion here. This is so because research and innovation are not a top priority for universities. All this should change for the better if universities in Bangladesh want to emulate at least some spirit of the Ivy League.