QS Asia Ranking: Another Take on Our Top PHL Universities

PHL UniversitiesEvery year, one reads about how some universities and colleges managed to be ranked among the best schools worldwide. Have you noticed how the same Philippine institutions’ names kept coming up?

The Quacquarelli Symonds’ QS University Ranking for Asia (top 300), for instance, would include each year the University of the Philippines (#70 in Asia in 2015), Ateneo University (#114 in Asia), De La Salle University (181-191 in Asia) and University of Santo Tomas (143 in Asia) in the list. Of the Philippines’ 2,299 (as of 2013) higher education institutions, it is any one of these four—if not all—that will most probably be included in world rankings.

Thus, these four institutions’ regular appearance in global rankings isn’t exactly one we call “news” anymore. That is, unless they suddenly fall in ranking (as what happened to all four this year compared to the previous year); or meteoric rise in ranking, which we are yet to see.


Star Ratings on Universities

Meanwhile, how does Quacquarelli Symonds assign star ratings to universities? The QS Stars Ratings give institutions anywhere from one to five+ stars in eight fields. The evaluation looks at 50 different indicators. Aside from the obvious criteria such as school facilities and teaching quality, there are three aspects that are worth mentioning here:

  • Research – quality of research among academics, number of papers published, how often papers are “cited” in papers by other academics, and awards.
  • Innovation – how many spinoff companies were established because of university research output that can be commercialized? How many practical applications in the scientific and industrial fields did Filipinos produce? The best way to gauge this is to look at the number of patents Filipinos had registered with regional and international patent offices.
  • Special Criteria – how a university excelled in a subject area; international and national accreditations received.

 Why did I highlight these oh-so-unsexy criteria? Well, I believe that these three criteria have been underrated for so long. If we want to foster an innovation-driven (another unsexy term) country, these are the ones that would matter most to us.


Different Angle: Science-friendly?

So, if the list for 2015-2016 were to be re-ranked based on engineering and technology alone, how will all these four universities rank? Here’s what I found out:

  • None of the four universities are in the list of top 100 Engineering and Technology, nor Life Sciences and Medicine, or in Natural Sciences universities in the world.
  • However, Ateneo (#365), University of the Philippines (#234), and De La Salle (#370) appear in the top 400 universities for Social Sciences and Management.
  • Of the four, University of the Philippines and De La Salle have “medium” research done. Ateneo and University of Santo Tomas were tagged to have “low”research.
  • And while only the University of Santo Tomas has an assigned overall star rating, it did not earn high ratings in all the categories. Good news: its higher category-level rating—five stars—are in employability, facilities, social responsibility and inclusiveness. Not-really-good-news: it managed to get two stars for research; one star for special criteria.

So, are our top institutions world class in science and technology? Nope, this particular global ranking does not seem to say so.

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