Thursday, 18 August, 2022

Why We Lag behind Others in World University Ranking

Md. Shafiqul Islam

University ranking is an important issue. This ranking is done every year. Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a UK-based company, recently released its 2023 ranking of the world's best universities. On June 8, the list of the world's best 1,400 universities was published. However, no university in Bangladesh got a place in the top 500. However, nine universities in neighboring India are in the top 500 list. Even three universities in Pakistan are in the top 500 though the economic infrastructure of Pakistan is much weaker than that of Bangladesh, and their country's condition is not so good.

Nevertheless, why do we not have a university in the top 500? Even we are doing very well economically. There is much criticism about ranking. Criticism, of course, is logical. The government must consider why none of our universities is in the top 500. This issue needs to be investigated and researched.

In 2012, the position of Dhaka University was 600, but now it is lagging in the rankings. The subject is frustrating for us because no development can be sustainable without good or qualitative improvement in education; in order to make development sustainable, the allocation for education and research must be increased. Education can play a small role without significantly improving research or quality. The government needs to take practical steps to ensure that our universities can quickly reach the top 500 in world ranking. We are very embarrassed about why none of our universities is in the top 500.

However, there are various reasons behind this. In this ranking, QS evaluates the universities with a total of 100 marks in six factors. Among them, academic reputation is 40, reputation in the job market is 10, the teacher-student ratio is 20, teacher research is 20 and two metrics, International Student Ratio and International Faculty Ratio, account for 5 percent each. But we are far behind in these indicators because the university's teacher-student ratio does not adhere to standards. For example, according to international standards, one teacher should be for every 20 students. However, many of our universities do not follow it. There are allegations that the University Grants Commission does not waive the post of the teacher as per the criteria. For example, my place of work, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, has 8340 students and 210 teachers. The average teacher-student ratio stands at 39.71. That means there is one teacher for every 40 students. The same situation can be found in other universities if the information is taken.

There are no foreign teachers or students in many of our universities. In this regard, the university authorities should quickly formulate a policy to admit foreign students and appoint some foreign faculty members. Teachers should be given financial incentives to improve the quality of research and attach research standards for promotion. It is also necessary to increase the research allocation in the university's budget. Allocation in education should not be considered a cost but an investment. Then the development of education and research is possible. If university authorities want to increase the academic reputation and reputation in the job market, they must hire good quality teachers. Now we see that the people in the university are appointing teachers with special qualifications. There is malpractice in special qualifications in different universities, which is not desirable. All this demands time to stop. It would not be right to make any compromise in teacher recruitment. We have to ensure 100% transparency in teacher recruitment. Vice-Chancellors need to be more vigilant in hiring teachers and stop nepotism.

Criticism, however, is mounting over the remarks regarding the ranking made by one of the vice-chancellors. The vice-chancellor should not say this. To do that, every university must have an academic master plan. In order to improve the universities in the fundamental indicators, first, the most meritorious students have to be appointed as teachers. Teachers cannot be hired without research. Besides, Masters’ degree is given frequently in the universities of our country. That is not right because not everyone needs a master's degree. Giving research-based degrees to those who will do masters will increase the number of research in the university and the quality of education, which will help enhance the academic reputation of the universities.

If teachers do not give due importance to PhD and post-doctoral research, it will be difficult for our educational institution to get a place in the university rankings. The University Grants Commission and the university administration need to take immediate action to increase the teacher-student ratio. The Higher Education and Research Commission should be formed soon so that the quality of research of university teachers and educators can be enhanced. In order to be promoted from assistant professor rank to that of professor in every step of the university, it is necessary to have international standard research, including a PhD degree which, I believe, will work to get a place in the university's ranking. Creating an environment of constructive politics is necessary by stopping dirty politics in the university. I think dirty politics in the campus seems to be largely responsible for not getting a place in the university rankings.


The writer is an Associate Professor,

Department of Accounting and

Information Systems, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Mymensingh