EducationNationalVOLUME 15 ISSUE # 18

Education impact rankings 2020 – a wakeup call for authorities

Mostly, a university is defined as “an institution at the highest level of education where you can study for a degree or do research”. Some others may define it as “an institution of higher learning providing facilities for teaching and research and authorised to grant academic degrees.”

However, in Pakistan, most universities are known for only one purpose: fleecing students and providing them with some pieces of coloured papers called “degrees”, in exchange for their money. Later, university “graduates” are seen roaming around one office and the other, with the pieces of coloured papers in their hands, to get some job. When the products of universities are put to some basic and simple tests, they fail to get through, and one wonders what knowledge they gained during their stay at the so-called centres of higher learning.

And when the universities, the so-called centres of higher learning and excellence, are tried out to examine their efficacy and productivity by some established world bodies through the set criteria, they prove as hollow as their products. One such test report was issued recently titled the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2020.

Regrettably, only 23 out of total 174 universities of the country, registered with the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HECP), could get a place in the list of 859 universities from 89 countries of the world. More unfortunate and worrying was the fact that none of them could secure a place in the list of first 200 universities, except for one, the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) Lahore, which was listed 195th.

The Impact Rankings highlight actions taken by the world’s higher education institutions to realise the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), thereby contributing to the planet’s economic and social well-being. The SDGs are the UN’s roadmap for building a better world – both for people and the planet – by 2030.

Adopted by all UN member states in 2015, the goals are a call to action for all nations to work together to end poverty and hunger, while meeting a range of social needs, including universal access to education, healthcare and clean water. In committing to the goals, both developed and developing countries recognise that strategies boosting economic growth and prosperity must go hand-in-hand with developing a more equal society that protects the environment.

The impact rankings are the only global performance table to assess universities against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and it looks at three broad areas of university activity: research, outreach and stewardship.

The ranking claims to help measure “the real impact that universities are making on their students and wider communities”, by assessing universities’ social and economic impact, using metrics based on the SDGs.

The initiative has created a visualisation mapping of all institutions in its overall ranking. In addition to showing each university’s ranking, the map benchmarks their performance against the SDGs, highlighting the ones with which each institution is most closely aligned.

In fact, the rankings show how much the world higher education institutions are performing their real job of research for the benefit of human beings and the planet at large. “We believe that universities are our greatest hope of solving some of the world’s biggest challenges,” says Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer at Times Higher Education in his message. “These rankings prove that traditional barriers to success like wealth or research prestige don’t matter when it comes to doing great things for sustainability. It’s clear that universities give us a lot to be hopeful for,” he adds.

Times Higher Education’s second annual Impact Rankings, released on April 22, show which institutions are contributing to the planet’s economic and social well-being. An interactive map shows what the 100 top-ranked universities are working on. The coronavirus pandemic represents a major global threat currently, but other serious challenges remain. The second THE Impact Rankings shed light on the vital research universities are conducting to tackle the issues, which include climate change, pollution and water scarcity, besides others.

Phil Baty says over the past 12 months alone, the world’s universities have developed solutions ranging from life-preserving breathing aids for coronavirus patients, to unleashing the potential of clean fuel-cell energy technology. However, it must be a matter for soul-searching for the authorities concerned what role our institutions of higher learning are playing in, at least, the betterment of the motherland and its dwellers, leave alone the rest of the world.

Before we discuss the local universities which remained lucky to wing a place on this year’s impact list, let’s have a look at the world universities, which are contributing the most to the well-being of human-beings and the planet Earth.

The University of Auckland, New Zealand, topped the rankings for the second consecutive year. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive universities of the world, with six main campuses and 42,000 students, including 8,000 international students.

Australasian universities dominated the overall rankings, securing the top four spots. Those were: University of Sydney, Western Sydney University, and La Trobe University. The rest of the top 10 was made up of the United State’s Arizona State University (Tempe) (5), Italy’s University of Bologna (6), Canada’s University of British Columbia (7), the United Kingdom’s University of Manchester (8) and King’s College London (9), and Australia’s RMIT University (10).

Universities from developed economies dominate the top 20, punctuated by two newcomers: China’s Tongji University, in 13th place, just ahead of Brazil’s University of São Paulo.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, its 23 universities have been included in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2020. This is up from the 10 varsities included in the inaugural rankings last year.

The University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore was the highest-ranked university this year, being placed at 195. Its overall score for SDGs was 75.4-83.3 while it received scores of 68.8 for SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), 67.4-75.1 for SDG 3 (good health and well-being), 70.2 for SDG 2 (zero hunger) and 70.7-80.6 for SDG 17 (partnerships for goals).

It was a rise of 100 places for the university from its 295 ranking last year. The Comsats University, Islamabad, finished at 221 in the rankings, and second for Pakistan. Its SDG scores were 68.2-75.3. Results for individual SDGs were 72.8 for SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), 48.-/62.3 for SDG 7, 56 for SDG 6 (clean water), and 54.3-62.3 for SDG 17. This was up by over a hundred places from last year’s ranking when it finished at 332.

It was followed by the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) with a ranking of 265. Its SDG scores were 68.2-75.3, including 71.7 for SDG 4 (quality education), 68.1 for SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), 54.5-64.9 for SDG 8, 54.3-62.3 for SDG 17.

Other varsities which made it include the NED University of Engineering and Technology, the Ghulam Ishaq Khan University of Engineering Sciences and Technology, King Edwards Medical University, University of Lahore, University of Malakand, University of Management and Technology, University of Peshawar, PMAS Arid Agriculture University, etc. A complete list is given below:

101-200: University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore

201-300: Comsats University, Islamabad

201-300: National University of Sciences and Technology

301-400: University of Agriculture, Faisalabad

301-400: NED University, Karachi

401-600: Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology

401-600: King Edward Medical University, Lahore

401-600: University of Lahore

401-600: University of Malakand

401-600: University of Management & Technology, Lahore

401-600: University of Peshawar

401-600: PMAS Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi

601+ : CECOS University of IT & Emerging Science, Peshawar

601+ : Dawood University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi

601+ : Dow University of Health Sciences, Lahore

601+ : University of Education, Lahore

601+ : UET Lahore

601+ : Government College University Lahore

601+ : IQRA University, Karachi

601+ : Jinnah Sindh Medical University

601+ : Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

601+ : University of Sargodha

601+ : The Women University Multan.