Friday, October 9, 2009

Asia Gains in World's Top Universities

The latest edition of the world's top universities from The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) has few surprises in 2009. The top 10 Universities are: Harvard (US), Cambridge (UK), Yale(US), UCL, London (UK), Imperial College, London and Oxford (both UK, joint 5), Chicago (US), Princeton (US), MIT, Massachusetts (US) and California Institute of Technology (US). As always, the top of the list is dominated by American and British Universities this year, together making up about 40% of the entire list of 200. The US universities account for more than a quarter, while the UK institutions make up about 15% of the top 200 universities. Outside of the US and the UK, there is fair representation of Australian, Canadian and European institutions and a smattering of Asian universities from China, Japan, South Korea, India, Singapore and Malaysia.

A US publication, US News & World Report, also published its ranking of the world's top universities in June, this year. USN&WR rankings are not identical but quite similar to the Times list.

The number of Asian universities in the list of top 100 has increased from 14 to 16. The University of Tokyo, at 22, is the highest ranked Asian university, ahead of the University of Hong Kong that stands at 24.

Leading UK universities said institutions in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong were "snapping at the heels" of western institutions, arguing they need more funding to compete on the global stage.

However, there has been a significant fall in the number of North American universities in the top 100, from 42 in 2008 to 36 this year.

The rankings are based on an international survey of 9,000 academics who assessed the institutions' research facility, teaching quality and ability to recruit staff and students abroad.

"The broad message of these tables is clear - the leading UK research universities are held in high esteem internationally but countries like China and Korea, which are investing massively in their best institutions, are snapping at our heels" Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group of universities said.

Piatt said the UK was less well-funded than its competitors and if public spending cuts hit budgets they would be under increasing pressure.

The entire Muslim world is represented by just one university from Malaysia on the top 200 list. Other Muslim nations including Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE are represented by one or more institutions among the top 400 universities listed by the Times of London for 2009. Egypt, the largest Arab nation by population, is conspicuous by its absence from this prestigious list of 400 institutions of higher learning.

Here are some of the key highlights:

1. Among the top 20 universities, including one tied ranking, there are 13 American, 5 British, 1 Australian, 1 Canadian and 1 Swiss on the list.

2. Top Canadian university is McGill in Montreal, at number 18, up from 20 last year. Australian National University and ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) are ranked at 17 and 20 respectively. Another top Canadian University in top 200, University of Toronto, is ranked 29.

3. Top Asian universities are University of Tokyo at 22 (down from 19 last year), followed by University of Hong Kong at 24 (up from 26), National University of Singapore at 30, and Hong Kong University of Technology at 35 (up from 39).

4. Outside of Hong Kong, the top Chinese university is Tsinghua at 49 (up from 56), followed by Peking University at 52 (down from 50).

5. The top Irish university is Trinity College, Dublin, at 43, up from 49.

6. Two campuses of the Indian Institutes of Technology make the list, down from three in 2006. IIT Bombay is ranked 163, up from 174 last year, and IIT Delhi at 181, down from 154 last year. Beyond the top 200, there are four more Indian institutions in the top 400 list. These include IIT Kanpur at 237, IIT Madras at 284, University of Delhi at 291 and IIT Kharagpur at 335.

7. Except for UC Santa Cruz (at 252) and the relatively new campuses at Merced and Riverside (at 285), the rest of the University of California campuses are on the top 200 best universities list. UCLA is at 32, UC Berkeley 39, UC San Diego 76, UC Santa Barbara 106, UC Davis 108, and UC Irvine at 161. On a personal note, it is nice to see both of my daughters' schools, UCLA and UC Berkeley, show up among the top 50 institutions on the list. It is also a consolation to see Rutgers University, where I taught in late 1970s, ranked at 183.

8. Ranked at 181, Universiti of Malaysia is the only institution from a Muslim nation on the list, down from two in 2006. It is a sad commentary on the quality of higher education at universities in Islamic nations that renders them unable to be considered for such prestigious lists. It is not hopeless however. There are several up and coming universities in Islamic nations, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which can move up the list if there is continued focus on excellence in higher education.

9. Beyond the top 200, there are thirteen more universities on the list of top 400 from Muslim nations. At 201, the University of Indonesia just missed the top 200 list. Saudi Arabia's King Saud University is at 247, Indonesia's Universitas Gadjah Mada at 250, Saudi Arabia's King Fahd University at 266, Malaysia's Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia at 291, Malaysia's Universiti Sains Malaysia at 314, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia at 320, Universiti Putra Malaysia at 345, Pakistan's National University of Science and Technology (NUST) at 350 (up from 376), Indonesia's BANDUNG Institute of Technology at 351, Turkey's Bilkent University at 360, Iran's University of Teheran at 386 and UAE's United Arab Emirate University at 374.

Table Courtesy of Two Wobbling Minds:

Related Links:

Times Higher Education Rankings

Stephen P. Cohen on Higher Education in Pakistan

World's Top 600 Universities

Pakistan Thompson Reuters' Rising Star in Science and Technology

US News and World Report Rankings

Quality of Higher Education in South Asia

Haq's Musings

NEDUET Admissions Prospectus 2009-10

Global Shortage of Quality Labor

Nature Magazine Editorial on Pakistan's Higher Education Reform

India Invites Foreign Colleges to Set Up Indian Campuses

McKinsey Global Institute Report

Pakistan Ranks Among Top Outsourcing Destinations

Pakistan Software Houses Association

World's Top Universities Rankings

Improving Higher Education in Pakistan

Globalization of Engineering Services 2006

Center for European Reform

Reforming Higher Education in Pakistan


Anonymous said...


What do you expect. This will continue for sometime. None of the developing countries has the funds to compete with the larger one.

Smaller one own their success to the bright students.

Further expecting higher education and research is asking for sky from the gcc countires. The new found wealth has pushed them towards nothing but vices to the large extent being wine / women and ugly show of wealth.

They have money to sponsor islamic fundamentalism but does not have money to assist the muslim who are suffering in indonesia or anyother part of the world

Donot worry those three institution of india also will be destroyed in another two to three years time as the govnerment has taken control over these autonomous insitution.

Probably these corrupt politicians are paid enough to self destruct these insitutions.

Anonymous said...

"The entire Muslim world is represented by just one university from Malaysia on the top 200 list. "

And you still think Islam has nothing to do with it.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "And you still think Islam has nothing to do with it."

If Islam were the problem, Muslims would never have had the greatest universities of the world in Muslim Spain, and Muslims would not have see the glory days of Science during Omayyad and Abbasid era. There would be no Alhazen or Alberuni or any of the great scientists and scholars in the Islamic world.

In fact, there would have been no Renaissance in Europe that has produced the great modern universities in the top 200 in the West today.

Please learn a little bit of history. It'll do you some good.

maaran said...

Riaz: "If Islam were the problem, Muslims would never have had the greatest universities of the world in Muslim Spain, and Muslims would not have see the glory days of Science during Omayyad and Abbasid era. There would be no Alhazen or Alberuni or any of the great scientists and scholars in the Islamic world."

So who do you think is responsible for the dismal current affairs. Hm, let me guess - Hindu zionists ?, America perhaps ?, Israel, India ?

Riaz Haq said...

maraan: "So who do you think is responsible for the dismal current affairs. Hm, let me guess - Hindu zionists ?, America perhaps ?, Israel, India ?"

No, it's the Muslims themselves who must share the greatest responsibility for their failures. The post-colonial Islam is consumed by anger an hatred that blinds them to their own shortcomings and distracts from the pursuit of knowledge an their historic ability to reconcile faith with reason.

The situation is not entirely hopeless however. There are several up and coming universities in Islamic nations, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which can move up the list if there is continued focus on excellence in higher education.

Beyond the top 200, there are several universities on the list of top 400 from Muslim nations. At 201, the University of Indonesia just missed the top 200 list. Saudi Arabia's King Saud University is at 247, Indonesia's Universitas Gadjah Mada at 250, Saudi Arabia's King Fahd University at 266, Malaysia's Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia at 291, Malaysia's Universiti Sains Malaysia at 314, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia at 320, Universiti Putra Malaysia at 345, Pakistan's National University of Science and Technology (NUST) at 350 (up from 376), Indonesia's BANDUNG Institute of Technology at 351, Turkey's Bilkent University at 360, Iran's University of Teheran at 386 and UAE's United Arab Emirate University at 374.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a recent story about India's collaboration with US schools:

For the first time in Indian history, over 30 top American Universities will visit India for research collaborations with Indian institutions and organizations. They will be participating in the Indo-American Education Summit on academic collaborations scheduled to be held during November 2009 in New Delhi (8th), Hyderabad (10th), and Bangalore (13th). The Summit is being organized by New Jersey based Indus Foundation, well established in the USA for over 14 years, having extensive contacts with several accredited American Universities with the mission to galvanize high-impact collaborations with reputed American Universities.

Some of the World’s leading universities that will be participating in the Summit are Tufts, Case Western, Northeastern, Florida State, Southern Illinois-Carbondale, Clarkson, Concordia (Canada), Drexel, Temple, Oregon, Rochester, Massachusetts-Boston, South Dakota Tech, Wisconsin, and Widener. Their areas for research collaboration cover a wide range including Science, Engineering, Medicine, Biotechnology, Environment, Management, and the Arts. A few of the specific fields for collaboration are: Energy, Sensors, Genomics, Nanotechnology, Supply Chains, Robotics, Biomedical Technology, Aerospace, Information Security, Telecommunications, Tissue Engineering, Environment, Urban Planning, AIDS, Terrorism, Psychology, Journalism, Music and Dance, International Law, etc. (Complete list of fields is available at

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

"And you still think Islam has nothing to do with it."

The insistence of many to blame Islam for the malaises of Muslim world is ridiculous - when real research of Islam moves from libraries and academic spheres to blogosphere and youtube under the auspices of pseudo-scholars, this is nothing surprising. In fact, the first university in Europe was in Cordoba, established by the then Emir of Cordoba(which I had the privilege to visit as a tourist).

As Bernhard Lewis(a Jew and an authority in Islamic studies) put it in his now famous essay "What went wrong",

If Islam is an obstacle to freedom, to science, to economic development, how is it that Muslim society in the past was a pioneer in all three—and this when Muslims were much closer in time to the sources and inspiration of their faith than they are now? Some have posed the question in a different form—not "What has Islam done to the Muslims?" but "What have the Muslims done to Islam?"—and have answered by laying the blame on specific teachers and doctrines and groups.


"The post-colonial Islam is consumed by anger an hatred that blinds them to their own shortcomings and distracts from the pursuit of knowledge an their historic ability to reconcile faith with reason"

If there is one good after effect of 9/11 and its resulting Islamophobia, it is the realization of a need for real renaissance in the Muslim world. First time since centuries, some Muslim scholars are opening the gates of Ijtihaad, which has been closed, well, sometimes in 12th century.

Anonymous said...


these institutions come to india as they see money and people who intention to study for their sustenance.

All these countries are looking out for market which can afford to pay for their sustenance as most of the western countries are in deep shit

Anonymous said...

Pls read this article, the wealth of the western countries could be cumulative value of the highly priced labour service within the country as they have not exported labour outside.

Over a period of time with people understanding the game, they are looking out for countries where they can start university to sustain their operation in their respective countries.

Probably that is the reason they are trying to open univeristy
otherwise why is the sudden love for india. They could very well go to africa for service.

Jami said...

Dear Riaz Sahib
thanks for compiling all this info, although these types of rankings are worth about as much as "Most Livable City in America", "Most eligible Bachelor" or Pre-season College Football polls!. At least those guys get to play each other on the field and the opinion polls get continually "corrected".

How can anyone take a giant diverse institution and reduce it to one number? The newspaper can choose one set of criteria, such as endowment from alumni or square feet building space per student, or number of books in the library, or leave those factors out. The rankings will completely flip-flop. A case in point. New Mexico used to rank in the top 25 engineering schools and it was quite a mystery to those of us who knew the school well why they were so high. Then overnight they dropped out! How can that happen? Well, it turns out that UNM had a contract with the Fed govt to run a national lab with a budget of hundreds of million (they just managed the money, like UC Davis does for Lawrence Livermore). That contract expired and their research $ went to almost nothing. How can a top 25 university fall completely out of the top 50 from one year to the next? It still has the same people and facilities.

I have spent 30 years in higher education in the US and I know most engineering colleges first hand. If you ask me to rank them I would ask you tell me what specific area, e.g., who is doing the greatest work in fuel cells, or space robotics, or hypersonic flow, etc. Then I could identify perhaps 5-10 people who are most respected. You might find some of them in North-Central Podunk State U or you might find them at an elite private school. There are some great people in any place and some pretty unproductive ones in even the top places. It all depends on departments, labs, specific fields. To consolidate that in one number is not very meaningful. Anyway thats my 2 cents.

I also dont understand the obsession about Universities in Muslim countries. Most of them dont give a damn about Pakistan. In fact, most will not even give a visa to most Pakistanis (like malaysia), yet we somehow feel kinship to them. They look down on us, particularly the Arabs, and we keep thinking that we have some special bond with them.

Speaking of Malaysia, I can tell you that I have seen nothing of any value published by any researchers in that country. They are working at a primitive level. So for any place to get ranked from there tells you how flawed the system is.

I think the public wants everything simplified. They dont want to take the time to look at things at a deeper level. thats what the newspapers and magazines are counting on.

Riaz Haq said...

Dear Prof Jami,

Thank you for your analysis and response, which I generally agree with.

As a veteran of CPU benchmark wars, I am well aware of the fact that no system of benchmarking or ranking is ever perfect. But each gives you its own parameters and methodology on which it is based. And it does give you rough guidance as to the top 50 or top 100 or top 200 institutions.

I believe these lists are helpful for someone in Pakistan contemplating higher education overseas in selecting the destination countries with the best universities and pick a school. For example, the Times list and the USN&WR gives you a pretty good idea that there is a better chance of getting higher quality education in US, UK, Canada or Australia.

As to the reference to Muslim nations and their rankings, I haven't limited my discussion to them alone. The developing nations of India and China are also mentioned. I see these comparisons as a way to inspire and motivate Pakistanis to believe that they, too, can build good institutions of higher learning in a relatively short time if they focus and spend on higher ed, as India, China, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Indonesia are doing. The number of papers, citations in International peer-reviewed journal are increasing in Asia, including India, China, Indonesia and Malaysia. In particular, the nations of China, Malaysia and Indonesia are significantly ahead in terms of indicators of human development and education and productivity than our neighborhood in South Asia.

Jami said...

Riaz: "As a veteran of CPU benchmark wars, I am well aware of the fact that no system of benchmarking or ranking is ever perfect. But each gives you its.."

it is interesting that you would equate benchmarking of chips to rating of universities! Universities are not made up of robots that follow some circuit design and programming.

Riaz Haq said...

Jami, "it is interesting that you would equate benchmarking of chips to rating of universities! Universities are not made up of robots that follow some circuit design and programming."

Benchmarking is how most things are compared in real life, from services (incl Engineering, Healthcare and Education), and manufacturing. Without benchmarks, it's hard to manage or measure the results in terms of performance and quality of any thing in real life. Most professionals, including engineers, researchers and managers depend on benchmarks to compare results and make decisions about resources, schedules, investments, and expected outcomes.Even in academia, it's often said that "you publish or perish".

Top Univ said...

Harvard is ranked No. 1 university in the world (every year) according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Riaz Haq said...

In terms of education, Chinese are investing heavily and significantly increasing their rankings and numbers in world's top universities relative to the rest of the world.

Top Asian universities are University of Tokyo at 22 (down from 19 last year), followed by University of Hong Kong at 24 (up from 26), National University of Singapore at 30, and Hong Kong University of Technology at 35 (up from 39).

Outside of Hong Kong, the top Chinese university is Tsinghua at 49 (up from 56), followed by Peking University at 52 (down from 50).

There are no Indian universities in the top 100. The top Indian university is IIT Bombay at #163.

A large number of Indian students are now studying at Chinese universities.

Diplomats say that easy admission systems, affordable fees and high standards of facilities are the chief attractions for Indian students, who now number more than 6,000 all over China.

The dominant choice of Indians is medicine. Chinese language also draws many. Clearly, Indian students are enjoying it in China.

The Chinese look to the West for advanced education beyond their own borders.

Riaz Haq said...

In Silicon valley recently, the US federal government has pumped in about $500 million each into two green tech startups..Solyndra pv solar and Tesla all-electric cars. Obama was here this week to promote green tech and spoke to Solyndra employees.

In addition, there is $1 billion in federal grants before offered to biotech firms under the new healthcare bill.

The reason for US supremacy is partly explained by how much of its public funds it spends on higher education. A 2006 report from the London-based Center for European Reform, "The Future of European Universities" points out that the United States invests 2.6 percent of its GDP in higher education, compared with 1.2 percent in Europe and 1.1 percent in Japan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's some rare praise in Newsweek for Iran's Sharif University as one of the best undergrad institutions:

Forget Harvard—one of the world's best undergraduate colleges is in Iran.

In 2003, administrators at Stanford University's Electrical Engineering Department were startled when a group of foreign students aced the notoriously difficult Ph.D. entrance exam, getting some of the highest scores ever. That the whiz kids weren't American wasn't odd; students from Asia and elsewhere excel in U.S. programs. The surprising thing, say Stanford administrators, is that the majority came from one country and one school: Sharif University of Science and Technology in Iran.

Stanford has become a favorite destination of Sharif grads. Bruce A. Wooley, a former chair of the Electrical Engineering Department, has said that's because Sharif now has one of the best undergraduate electrical-engineering programs in the world. That's no small praise given its competition: MIT, Caltech and Stanford in the United States, Tsinghua in China and Cambridge in Britain.

Sharif's reputation highlights how while Iran makes headlines for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's incendiary remarks and its nuclear showdown with the United States, Iranian students are developing an international reputation as science superstars. Stanford's administrators aren't the only ones to notice. Universities across Canada and Australia, where visa restrictions are lower, report a big boom in the Iranian recruits; Canada has seen its total number of Iranian students grow 240 percent since 1985, while Australian press reports point to a fivefold increase over the past five years, to nearly 1,500....

Riaz Haq said...

Newsweek on Iranian universities contd:

Iranian students from Sharif and other top schools, such as the University of Tehran and the Isfahan University of Technology, have also become major players in the international Science Olympics, taking home trophies in physics, mathematics, chemistry and robotics. As a testament to this newfound success, the Iranian city of Isfahan recently hosted the International Physics Olympiad—an honor no other Middle Eastern country has enjoyed. That's because none of Iran's neighbors can match the quality of its scholars.

Never far behind, Western tech companies have also started snatching them up. Silicon Valley companies from Google to Yahoo now employ hundreds of Iranian grads, as do research institutes throughout the West. Olympiad winners are especially attractive; according to the Iranian press, up to 90 percent of them now leave the country for graduate school or work abroad.

So what explains Iran's record, and that of Sharif in particular? The country suffers from many serious ills, such as chronic inflation, stagnant wages and an anemic private sector, thanks to poor economic management and a weak regulatory environment. University professors barely make ends meet—the pay is so bad some must even take second jobs as taxi drivers or petty traders. International sanctions also make life difficult, delaying the importation of scientific equipment, for example, and increasing isolation. Until recently, Iranians were banned from publishing in the journals of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the industry's key international professional association. They also face the indignity of often having their visa applications refused when they try to attend conferences in the West.

Yet Sharif and its ilk continue to thrive. Part of the explanation, says Mohammad Mansouri, a Sharif grad ('97) who's now a professor in New York, lies in the tendency of Iranian parents to push their kids into medicine or engineering as opposed to other fields, like law. Sharif also has an extremely rigorous selection process. Every year some 1.5 million Iranian high-school students take college-entrance exams. Of those, only about 10 percent make it to the prestigious state schools, with the top 1 percent generally choosing science and finding their way to top spots such as Sharif. "The selection process [gives] universities like Sharif the smartest, most motivated and hardworking students" in the country, Mansouri says.

Sharif also boasts an excellent faculty. The university was founded in 1965 by the shah, who wanted to build a topnotch science and technology institute. The school was set up under the guidance of MIT advisers, and many of the current faculty studied in the United States (during the shah's era, Iranians made up the largest group of foreign students at U.S. schools, according to the Institute of International Education). Another secret of Sharif's success is Iran's high-school system, which places a premium on science and exposes students to subjects Americans don't encounter until college. This tradition of advanced studies extends into undergraduate programs, with Mansouri and others saying they were taught subjects in college that U.S. schools provide only to grad students.

Several Sharif alumni point to one other powerful motivator. "When you live in Iran and you see all the frustrations of daily life, you dream of leaving the country, and your books and studies become a ticket to a better life," says one who asked not to be identified. "It becomes more than just studying," he says. "It becomes an obsession, where you wake up at 4 a.m. just to get in a few more hours before class."

Riaz Haq said...

Several Sharif alumni point to one other powerful motivator. "When you live in Iran and you see all the frustrations of daily life, you dream of leaving the country, and your books and studies become a ticket to a better life," says one who asked not to be identified. "It becomes more than just studying," he says. "It becomes an obsession, where you wake up at 4 a.m. just to get in a few more hours before class."

Iran's success, in other words, is also the country's tragedy: students want nothing more than to get away the moment they graduate. That's a boon for foreign universities and tech firms but a serious source of brain drain for the Islamic republic. There simply are not enough quality jobs for graduates in Iran, says Ramin Farjad Rad, another Sharif grad ('97) who's now an executive at Aquantia in Silicon Valley. What's worse, star students who stay in Iran and try to launch businesses complain that predatory government officials demand a cut of their profits or impose unnecessary obstacles. Thus many Iranians who can't make it to the West head to Dubai instead. As one Sharif grad in the Persian Gulf port city puts it, "Here, our education is properly valued. We are given freedom to succeed. In Iran, we are blocked."

Such frustrations augur ill for Iran's future. True, it's produced a startling number of top students in recent years. And the country's history is rich with achievement, featuring Avicenna (also known as Ibn Sina), the medieval world's greatest scientist; Muhammad al-Khwarizmi, the ninth-century inventor of the mathematical algorithm (the basis of computer science), and Omar Khayyam, the famed mathematician and astronomer. That's a fine legacy. But unless the Islamic republic changes directions soon, all of that history and potential could be squandered.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Friday Times Op Ed by University of Wisconsin's Dr Howard Schweber who
taught students at a private university in Lahore, Pakistan and found them bright, resourceful and highly confused. He particularly singles out lack of general education and consequent lack of critical thinking skills as problems:

.... the students I met and taught reveals more mysteries. Some had serious problems with English, particularly in their writing, but most were extremely well prepared as far as language skills were concerned. It is when we look beyond language skills that puzzles begin to appear. What was most startling was the realization that these students were palpably uncomfortable with abstract concepts and what people in Education Schools call ‘critical thinking skills.’ When I raised this point to faculty and alumni, every one without exception acknowledged the problem, and pointed to the system of secondary education as the culprit. Undoubtedly the point is correct, but I think there is a deeper observation to be made here. In addition to being uncomfortable with abstract concepts, these students and their families seem to be uncomfortable with the idea of knowledge that is not justified by an immediate practical application. That discomfort extends to a reluctance to embrace basic scientific research as well as the humanities. I heard from students who wanted to study theoretical physics whose parents insisted that they become engineers; students who wanted to become historians whose parents did not see the point. The same attitudes exist in other places to be sure, but among my Pakistani students it seemed almost universal.


Part of the reason for this discomfort with abstraction may have to do with a curiously limited range of background knowledge. My students – many of whom, again, had graduated from the finest schools – knew almost literally nothing of non-Pakistani history and culture. The reason is not that Pakistan is culturally isolated – far from it. At one point I found myself confronted by a room full of students who had an exhaustive knowledge of the movies that were Oscar candidates last year, but among whom the vast majority had never heard of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. In general, students had no idea – not even a wrong idea! – about the significance of the French Revolution or World War I, the history of nationalism and empires, the contents of the Book of Genesis, the Scientific Revolution or the Renaissance. Again, when I pressed students, faculty members and alumni, the answer was always the same: the fault lies with the secondary school curriculum, and particularly the fact that during General Zia ul Haq’s rule secondary school curricula were shifted to emphasize Pakistan Studies and Islam at the expense of everything else. Again, that can only be a very partial explanation. But it is worth noting that this lack of cultural literacy helps feed the culture of conspiracy theories for which Pakistan is justly famous.

But what happens once these students get to college? I saw and heard about fine courses in Shakespeare and Islamic Jurisprudence, but when it comes to the social sciences it appears that the students who learn anything about these subjects at all (that is, those who choose to take courses outside of Accounting and Finance) are fed a steady diet of snippets of readings and excerpts from trendy current theories. Many students could and were eager to could talk fluently about Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, and (rather weirdly) Nazi Germany, but Locke and Rousseau, Machiavelli and Madison, Cromwell and Marx were all equally unknown territory. Undoubtedly, at this point I will be accused of Western ethnocentricism; how many American college students know the names of the first four Moghul Emperors?

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a recent Dawn report of international recognition of Pakistani woman scientist:

KARACHI: Pakistani Scholar Dr. Hina Siddiqui won the best “Oral Presentation Award” in the 11th Eurasia conference on Chemical Sciences. The international conference was held in Jordon from Oct.6 to Oct.10, 2010.

Dr. Siddiqui’s presentation was declared as one of the top three oral presentations in the conference, where a panel of experts decided upon the top three finalists. Another scholar from Peshawar also got prize in the event, where over 200 scientists delivered their presentations from 69 countries.

Eurasia Chemical Sciences conference was launched by three chemists in 1988 to foster network and knowledge sharing among the researchers of North and South.

Dr. Siddiqui is a PhD in organic chemistry and currently working as research officer at International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at Karachi University.

When she was in school, she read an inspiring interview of Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman from Hussain Ebrahim Jamal (HEJ) Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi, published in a well-known Urdu science magazine named Amali Science.

In that Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman said institutions are not made up from bricks and stones rather they are made up of people who have dreams and vision.

The sentence changed Siddiqui’s vision and she devoted herself to exploring the unknown. In 2005, she joined HEJ and started her Ph. D under supervision of Prof. Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Choudhary, during her Ph.D Studies she worked on the anti-oxidant properties of various chemical constituents, also she got UBF (Umear Basha Foundation) scholarship and went to University of Kansas for one year to excel in Organic synthesis research.

In the Eurasia conference, a shield and certificate was presented to Siddiqui and the organisers also waived the registration fee of upcoming 12 Eurasia Conference on Chemical Sciences which will be held in Greece in 2012.

Siddiqui told that it is not her prize but it is HEJ award because in HEJ every student gets a world class education and training to excel anywhere in the world.

Siddiqui said that HEJ is a great place to shine, because it is an equal opportunity institute where merit is the only criteria rather than gender discrimination. She urged the females to consider research as their career and vows to continue research and development in the future.

Riaz Haq said...

The fundamental problems in South Asia are very different from problems in the West.

Solution to South Asian problems can not be found by aping the West...and original thinking is required to find such solutions.

Take individual liberties and rights for example.

The biggest beneficiaries of such rights are those few who have the power to enforce such rights for themselves through the use of the courts and the state apparatus, usually at the expense of the society at large. This situation leads to growing inequalities, and greater poverty for the majority.

Similarly, the western style capitalist economy encourages unrestrained growth in consumption...something that Asian nations with their massive populations and rapidly depleting natural resources can simply not afford.

No amount of cheap widget manufacturing, computer code writing and low-cost BPO services can solve these problems.

There is an estimate that it would take five times the resources of the planet earth for the rest the world to live as Americans do today.

What we need is to acknowledge that the developing world can not achieve the same standards of living as the OECD nations have without catastrophic destruction of the planet.

So what is the alternative? How do the Asians and the Africans achieve reasonable standards of living without destroying the planet? What political and economic system is needed to ensure equitable sharing of rapidly depleting resources of the earth?

These are the kinds of questions that need to be explored and answered by Asian intellectuals now.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India report on lagging research in India:

DHARWAD: India may not compete with other countries in the field of science and technology (S&T) if our scientists fail to make serious efforts to improve the track record in the field of scientific research and development (R&D), said VTU vice-chancellor H Maheshappa.

Inaugurating a six-day workshop on `Graph algorithms' jointly organized by the department of Computer Science, Karnatak University, and VTU here recently, he said India's track record in the field of scientific R&D has remained insignificant when compared with countries like China. This trend has to be changed if we really wish to emerge as successful competitors and carve a niche for India in the field of S&T, he said.

Pointing out the progress achieved by China in this regard, he said China is far ahead of India in the field of scientific R&D. "While the researchers from China file hundreds of patent applications everyday, India stands not even nearer to China in this respect. He said India has potential, including talented pool of teachers and researchers, state-of-the-art research institutes and financial investment by the government for the promotion of scientific R&D.

Expressing concern over the lack of teachers with research background in technical educational institutes, he said though the state has nearly 200 engineering colleges, the number of teachers with research degrees is minimal. "This scenario has to be changed. VTU has plans to tie up with universities like Karnatak University to assist engineering college teachers on understanding of basic science and research methodology," he added.

Riaz Haq said...

While Pakistan fares badly, ranking 103 on a list of 125 nations, on CII-INSEAD Global Index of Innovation for 2011, it is included among the top 10 countries for the Innovation Efficiency sub-Index. These countries are Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, Moldova, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, India, and Bangladesh.

This places Pakistan in 4th place on CII-Insead's Global innovation efficiency sub-index, 5 places ahead of India in 9th place, according to Economic Times of India:

India has improved its ranking in the global Innovation Efficiency Index to 9th position in 2011 from 101th last year on factors like political stability, R&D, market and business sophistication, according to a study.

Surprisingly, Pakistan was placed ahead of India at 4th position, the CII-INSEAD study said.

However, India has slipped on its ranking in the Global Innovation Index to 62nd position out of 125 countries in 2011 from 56th last year while Switzerland was at the top,

It said that a lot of Indian talent is returning home to the country and the youth in urban India are now more global than ever, "and they are quite in tune with new technologies, even ahead of the curve in many cases, as early adapters".

"Multinational corporations are making large investments in R&D outside of their headquarter countries, setting up R&D sites in low-cost emerging countries such as China and India to access global talent and take advantage of their proximity to target markets," the report said.

Indian major players such as Tata, Godrej, and Mahindras are shifting their focus towards the rapidly expanding middle-income group of customers by coming up with frugal innovations, keeping in mind the price sensitivity of Indian consumers, it said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET piece on Pakistani universities among top 300 in Asia:

Investments in higher education seem to have reaped dividends as six universities of Pakistan, including the University of Karachi (KU), have won a place among the top 300 Asian universities.

The QS Asian University Rankings 2012 list shows National University of Science and Technology (#108), KU (#191-200), Aga Khan University (#201-250), Lahore University of Management Sciences (#251-300) and The University of Lahore (#251-300) in the top 300 universities of the continent.

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) is the world’s most renowned and prestigious ranking agency.

A statement issued on Wednesday by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) claimed that the rankings speak volumes about the hard work put in by the management and faculty of these universities.

The HEC has consistently supported the varsities in terms of infrastructure, digital libraries, opportunities for innovative research, collaborative research projects with leading international institutions and participating in international exchange programmes, it was said.

Pakistani universities have produced more PhDs in the past nine years (3,280) – since the establishment of the HEC – than in the first 55 years (3,000) of the country’s establishment.

Research output has grown eight-fold since 2002 (from 815 in 2002 to 6,200 in 2011) which is a remarkable achievement by any world standard. Eighty per cent of these research publications are coming from higher education institutes. The output has more than doubled in the last three years and is expected to double again in the next three.

Around 5,000 scholars from Pakistan have presented their research work at leading conferences of the world and have established academic linkages with their counterparts in every leading university of the world in the US, UK, China, Germany, France, Australia, Korea, etc.

According to the HEC, Pakistani scientists, engineers and technologists are the country’s biggest strategic asset. Till five years ago, they were concentrated in a few strategic organisations, but the higher education revolution brought about by the HEC has ensured that every engineering and science and technology university has started to blossom into a centre of research and innovation.

The HEC declared that it has been able to break the elitist myth of availability of talent only in large cities by providing scholarships to talented students belonging to the middle class and poor segments of the society.

Currently, the education commission is focusing on expansion of facilities for biotechnology and genetics, immunology, robotics and automation, nanotechnology, superconductivity, photo-optics and lasers, electromagnetics and nuclear fusion for energy, it was stated.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's PakistanToday on ADB assistance for TeleTaleem online education:

ISLAMABAD - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a technical assistance (TA) grant of US$ 1.1 million to Pakistan’s TeleTaleem (Pvt.) Limited to boost access to quality education and vocational training in Pakistan using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
“This project will open new vistas of online learning opportunities for students and teachers, currently without access to quality educational and training resources. With a click of a button, students will be able to avail quality educational services regardless of their geographic location. The project will hugely benefit students and teachers, particularly girls in remote parts of the country who seek access to good educational opportunities,” said Philip Erquiaga, Director General of ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department.
Leveraging Pakistan’s fast growing ICT sector, TeleTaleem will provide ICT-assisted advanced learning environment to service basic education and technical education and vocational training (TEVT) segments. The company plans to setup 500 learning centers/points-of-access over the next 5 years, reaching out to 100,000 students and 10,000 teachers across the country.
Werner E. Liepach, ADB’s Country Director for Pakistan, and Asad Karim, Chief Executive Officer of the TeleTaleem (Pvt.) Limited, today signed the TA implementation agreement. This is ADB’s first-ever private-sector led investment in an education project.
Pakistan has made impressive gains over the last decade with spectacular ICT growth through the use of mobile phones, Internet and personal computers in the urban, semi-urban and the rural areas.
TeleTaleem will be using this widespread ICT footprint to deliver exciting and engaging teaching-learning practices and content to students and teachers, with the objective of enhancing student achievement and teacher competency.
ADB’s TA grant will also study gaps, issues and opportunities to expand the use of ICT for education by defining appropriate strategies frameworks and financially self-sustaining development and marketing plans, to achieve large scale adaptation.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2011, ADB approvals including cofinancing totaled $21.7 billion.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s climb to world's top 100 #universities not easy, but it can rise. #education … via @timeshighered

Late last year, India’s president, Pranab Mukherjee, told a conference on industry-academic interaction that if India provides “enough funds to [the] top 10 to 15 institutions for the next four to five years, these institutions will certainly storm into the top 100 of global academic rankings within [the] next few years”. Unfortunately, his optimism is misplaced. That laudable goal will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in the short or medium term.

India’s higher education and research sectors have, for decades, been underfunded, especially in view of the tremendous growth in student numbers. Compared with the other BRIC countries, the proportion of Indian gross domestic product spent on education – 4.1 per cent – is second to Brazil. But India is bottom for research expenditure, committing just 0.8 per cent of its GDP, and it educates the lowest proportion of the relevant age group. So despite now having the largest higher education system in the world after China, the public and political clamour for more expansion is immense.

Indian higher education is also poorly organised to create world-class universities. No state government has a vision to do so, and none provides adequate funding to maintain high standards. The central universities are better funded and do not share with the state universities any of the immense, globally unique responsibility for supervising India’s 36,000 colleges. But they are still beset by a range of factors that make institutional change extraordinarily difficult. These include excessive bureaucracy, a promotion system that pays little attention to productivity and the occasional intrusion of local politics on to campus. This explains India’s tendency, when it wants to innovate in the sector, to create new institutions, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research or the Indian Institutes of Management. But doing this requires time and immense resources – and leaves the vast majority of the system wallowing in mediocrity.

Whatever the approach, creating world-class universities requires careful thought and planning, as well as considerable funding over the long run. India will need to consider whether it has the resources. If recognition in the global rankings is a goal, the challenges are even greater because the rankings are a moving target. There can be only 100 institutions in the top 100, and several other countries, such as Russia, Japan and China, are also spending big on their top universities. India is very much a latecomer to the world-class party.

Jamil Salmi and I analysed the experiences of 10 successful new universities in our 2011 book The Road to Academic Excellence: The Making of World-Class Research Universities. We found that while money is necessary, other elements are just as vital. One is a governance model that involves significant participation from – but not total control by – academics. Another is strong leadership: not only a visionary president but also competent administrative staff able to implement the university’s mission. A third element is enough autonomy to prevent the interference of governmental or private authorities, combined with reasonable accountability to external agencies. A fourth is top academic staff who are committed to the university’s mission (including teaching), paid adequately and provided with appropriate career ladders. Also important are academic freedom, highly qualified and motivated students, and a firm commitment to meritocracy at all levels.

Riaz Haq said...

Discover top #universities in #Pakistan determined by data collected by Times Higher Education. #COMSATS #NUST #QAU

Pakistan has around 170 public and private higher education institutions, some of which date back to when the country was first established. Following the establishment of Pakistan as an independent country the government built several universities to provide vital skills to the newly-formed republic, especially in the sciences and engineering. That legacy continues to this day with many universities retaining a focus on science, medicine and technology.

COMSATS Institute of Information Technology

The COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, or CIIT for short, was established in 1994 by the commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South, an intergovernmental organisation whose goal is to promote sustainable growth in developing countries through science and technology. CIIT is spread over six campuses with the main campus in the capital city, Islamabad.

Although still a young institution, CIIT has gained a strong reputation in the region for its research and teaching especially in the fields of IT and computer science, and CIIT is highly placed in regional rankings as a result. The Islamabad campus is home to over 5,000 students while around 30,000 more attend classes at CIIT’s satellite campuses in Abbottabad, Attock, Vehari, Lahore, Wah and Sahiwal.

The university offers a wide range of degrees at postgraduate and undergraduate level. Subjects are split into nine departments which between them offer almost 100 degree programs. Teaching at CIIT takes place in English and the comparatively low cost of tuition makes this an attractive option for international students wishing to specialise in information technology or computer science.

National University of Sciences and Technology

The National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) is a public research university based in Islamabad. The university was founded in 1991 to further the provision of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in Pakistan’s higher education system.

The university was founded in collaboration with the military and military and civil educational establishments merged to become NUST. Since its creation, the institution has grown student enrolment and broadened its curriculum to include non-STEM subjects.

NUST consistently performs well in the regional rankings for the quality of its electric engineering department, the university also ranks highly among those from other emerging economies. Students can choose from a wide array of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs from over 20 departments.

The university has in the region of 15,000 students encompassing many different nationalities. NUST also has close links with a great many international organisations such as Stanford and Caltech in America, the university of Manchester in the UK and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, among many others. The university also collaborates with CERN, Intel and Microsoft in research and training.

Quaid-i-azam University

Also based in Islamabad, Quaid-i-azam University was founded in 1977 to further the study of postgraduate education. A public research university, Quaid-i-azam University was called Islamabad University when it first opened. Since those days the institution has broadened its curriculum and is now proud to call itself an interdisciplinary university offering postgraduate and undergraduate degrees.

The university offers a broad mix of subjects from 38 academic departments spread across its four faculties. The faculty of natural sciences is home to the maths, physics and computer science departments among others. The faculty of social sciences houses law, history and economics, the faculty of biological sciences has medicine, biochemistry and microbiology. Finally the faculty of medical science is home to dentistry, nursing and the university eye hospital.

Riaz Haq said...

#Columbia University #ranking scandal raises questions over sky-high value of an #IvyLeague education. The university drops in #US News & World Report rankings from 2nd to 18th place after admitting to cheating on data submitted. via @YahooFinance

Caught fluffing its numbers by one of its own professors, one of America’s elite eight Ivy League undergraduate schools admitted handing in homework cribbed to score higher on a placement test.

Columbia University, located in Upper Manhattan, had been ranked the second best in the prestigious 2021 U.S. News & World Report annual ranking, thanks to the use of “outdated and incorrect methodologies.” It has since been bumped down to 18th as a result of the scandal.

The charges are serious given the ongoing debate over the value of a typical college degree in the humanities, given tuition has been among the largest drivers of national inflation. Last month President Joe Biden ended a fractious debate over the hot-button political issue of student debt by ordering a portion of the over $1.6 trillion owed to the federal government to be canceled.

The admission is furthermore extremely embarrassing as academic honesty is considered the cornerstone of higher education. Students found to have cheated on an exam or plagiarized sources without attribution are subject to immediate disciplinary action that often can involve expulsion.

“Anything less than complete accuracy in the data that we report—regardless of the size or the reason—is inconsistent with the standards of excellence to which Columbia holds itself,” the university said in a statement on Friday.

Unlike in other countries, the college one attends is often much more important to potential employers than what degree they received or the strength of their grade point average. Ivy Leagues are considered the benchmark when it comes to teaching the country’s best and brightest young minds how best to analyze problems and arrive at a solution or present a logically compelling argument.

Harvard University, which has long bragged about the number of applicants it receives every year, can charge its students an arm and a leg for their education given it could only accept a record low 3.2% of applicants for its 2026 undergraduate class in April.

‘Bogus rankings’
This culture fosters a heavy emphasis on ranking, boiling down the varied experiences of a university to a narrow number of key performance indicators. Prospective college students and their parents scour the annual special edition of U.S. News & World Report every year before making a decision as to where to apply for admission.

According to Columbia’s own calculations, tuition for this academic year alone costs $65,000; add on room and board, and you’re talking $86,000 with typically three more years still to come before a student has earned his or her undergraduate degree.

Even after adjusting for inflation, nonprofit think tank College Board estimated the cost of tuition at an average private university during the 2020–21 year has doubled relative to where it was 30 years prior. For public universities, it has nearly tripled.

Should a university like Columbia be found not to apply the kind of intellectual rigor expected, it could suffer substantially when attracting the best students and professors, not to mention raising donations from wealthy and successful alumni.

The Columbia professor who flagged the issue
Michael Thaddeus, the Columbia mathematics professor that discovered the inconsistencies, poured scorn on the system of rankings.

“Does it make sense to conclude from this folly that Columbia is the 18th best American university, worse than Cornell but better than Berkeley?” he told Gothamist. “Of course not—that would be ridiculous. The only thing that makes sense is paying no attention to these bogus rankings at all.”