15 days ago

National ranking for universities

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For the first time in 50 years, five Bangladeshi universities have been ranked in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023. The ranking, which includes a total of 1,799 universities across 104 countries and regions, placed University of Dhaka (DU) and North South University (NSU) between 601st  and 800th place among the higher education institutions worldwide. The other three universities included in the ranking are Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), and Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (KUET). THE ranking is considered as one of the most prestigious ones in the world. And five of our universities have shown tremendous improvement in this ranking. Unfortunately, the rest 48 other universities in the country were nowhere near that grading. 

Apart from Times Higher Education, other prominent international rankings are QS World University Ranking, Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities and Academic Rankings of World Universities. There are other organisations that provide their own rankings nationally, regionally and internationally like Financial Times ranking for business schools and US Today ranking for American universities. A new trend is emerging in many countries about providing regional rankings and national rankings for the top institutions. For example, QS provides rankings for Asian universities. In India, many national organisations and publications have introduced rankings for the country's universities. 

Had Bangladesh introduced a national ranking system for its universities, it could have improved the quality of higher education and created competition among all our universities. A healthy competition among our universities can lead many of them to compete in the international arena and excel in international rankings since most of these rankings are based on some common performance indicators like teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The University Grants Commission (UGC) can administer this national ranking system by setting its own parameters. This will help the country's highest seats of learning to improve their academic performance which will benefit both students and teachers.  

Many countries have projects dedicated to put their institutions of higher education at the top position in terms of global rankings. For example, Russia has the Project 5-100 aiming to bring its top five universities in the list of 100 best universities in the world. Meanwhile, China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia are countries with clear strategies for promoting their universities to improve their position in the rankings. Evidently, no such measure has even been thought of by our policymakers. Rather, we have other restrictions. Bangladesh is probably the only country in the world where private universities are not able to offer PhD degrees to their students. All this is hindering our universities to do well in the international rankings. If Bangladesh had its own ranking system for its universities, many believe, such problems could be sorted out soon. 


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