Monday, June 30, 2014

THE Asian University Rankings

Times Higher Education Asian University Rankings


Universities in Asia, including Southwest Asia, Turkey and Central Asia but not Australasia or the Pacific region.

Unchanged since last year. Same as the THE World University Rankings

Teaching: the Learning Environment 30%  (includes 5 indicators)
Research: Volume, Income, Reputation  30% (includes 3 indicators)
International Outlook 7.5% (includes 3 indicators)
Industry Income: Innovation 2.5%
Citations: Research Influence 30%

Top Ten

1.   University of Tokyo
2.   National University of Singapore
3.   University of Hong Kong
4.   Seoul National University
5.   Peking University
6.   Tsinghua University
7.   Kyoto University
8.   Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
9=  Hong Kong University of Science and  Technology
9=  Pohang University of Science and Technology

Countries with Universities in the Top Hundred

Japan              20
China              18
Korea             14
Taiwan            13
India               10
Hong Kong      6
Turkey             5
Israel                3
Iran                  3
Saudi Arabia    3
Thailand           2
Singapore         2
Lebanon           1

Selected Changes

Hebrew University of Jerusalem down from 15th to 18th
Bogazici University, Turkey, up from 37th to 19th
Sogang University, Korea, down from 78th to 92nd
Panjab University, India,  from unranked to 32nd.
Keio University down from 53rd to 72nd

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The QS BRICS Rankings

The number and frequency of international university rankings is constantly increasing so I am starting to use a standard format.

QS BRICS Rankings


Universities in Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa. Does not include Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.

Unchanged since last year.

Academic Reputation 30%
Employer Reputation  20%
Faculty/Student Ratio 20%
Staff with a PhD 10%
Papers per Faculty 10%
Citations per Paper 5%
International Faculty 2.5%
International Students 2.5%

Top Ten

1.   Tsinghua University
2.   Peking University
3.   Lomonosov Moscow State University
4.   University of Science and Technology China
5.   Fudan University
6.   Nanjing University
7.   Universidade de Sao Paulo
8.   Shanghai Jiao Tong University
9=  Universidade Estadual de Campinas
9=  University of Cape Town

Countries with Universities in the Top Hundred

China               40
Brazil               19
Russia              18
India                15
South Africa     8

Selected Significant Changes

Harbin Institute of Technology down from 23rd to 27th
Wuhan University down from 26th to 33rd
Tomsk State University up from 58th to 47th
Manipal Academy of Higher Education up from 100th to 85th.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Off Topic: Should Cambridge and ICL Emulate Wayne State?

This is from the Independent, which is supposed to be a  serious newspaper, 18 June.

"British cities seeking to adapt to the realities of the new global economy should model their plans on the success of United States conurbations including Detroit, a former urban development advisor to President Obama has told The Independent. ...

But Bruce Katz, vice president of the Washington think tank the Brookings Institution, who has advised both the Clinton and Obama White Houses on urban regeneration, said that Detroit was now part of the metro revolution that is transforming the lives of millions of citizens and rebuilding the shattered US economy."

Five days later in the Independent.

"Activists angered by the closing of water accounts for thousands of people behind in their payments have taken their fight to the United Nations.

In March, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) announced that it would start cutting off the services of homes, schools and businesses that were at least 60 days overdue or more than $150 behind.

It said it wanted to start recouping $118million owed from unpaid bills and that a fierce approach was needed to coax money from delinquent accounts, which make up almost half of the city’s total.

The move, in which as many as 3,000 properties were expected to be cut off each week, has outraged campaigners."

Monday, June 23, 2014

It Was the God Particle!

The truth about Panjab University's (PU) rise in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings -- and no other -- is revealed in the Times of India.

Shimona Kanwar notes:

"The paper on the discovery of Higgs boson particle better known as the God particle, which earned the Nobel Prize in Physics last year, has come as blessing for Panjab University (PU). PU earned an overall score of 40.2, most of which has been contribution of citations from the university's publications. The paper on the God particle had 10,000 citations, which helped immensely give the numero uno status to PU in the country.
The Times Higher Education Asia University ranking-2014 had four parameters -teaching, international outlook, industry income, research and citations. Out of the 30% score on citations, 84.7 was the top score, which gave the university an edge over the other 21 participating universities. This included Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Aligarh Muslim University and IIT Kharagpur among others. Though the CERN project which was associated with the discovery of the God particle involved participation from Delhi University as well, a huge number of PhD students in the project from PU apparently contributed in this rank."We had build parts of a detector, contributed for the hardware, software and physics analysis in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) stage of the God particle discovery," said Prof Manjit Kaur of PU, who was part of the project.
Panjab University had 12-15 PhD students and five faculty members from the department of physics who worked in collaboration for the prestigious project."

A couple of things are missing though. Delhi University (DU) also joined the project but did not even get into the top 100 of the Asian rankings. How come? It wasn't those doctoral students. It was probably (we can't be certain without seeing the scores for all the indicators) because although PU had fewer citations than DU over the relevant period it also had significantly  fewer papers to divide them by.

The trick to getting on in the THE rankings is not just to get lots of citations in the right field and the right year and the right country but also to make sure the total number of papers doesn't get too high.

And, as I noted yesterday, if TR, THE's data collectors, do what they have done for the Highly Cited researchers database and stop counting physics publications with more than 30 affiliations, then PU will almost certainly fall out of the rankings altogether.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The New Highly Cited Researchers List

Citations have become a standard feature of global university rankings, although they are measured in very different ways. Since 2003 the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities has used the list of highly cited researchers published by Thomson Reuters (TR), who have now prepared a new list of about 3,500 names to supplement the old one which has 7,000 plus.

The new list got off to a bad a start in 2013 because the preliminary list was based on a faulty procedure and because of problems with the assigning of papers to fields or subfields. This led to ARWU having to repeat the 2012 scores for their highly cited researchers indicator in their 2013 rankings.

The list contains a number of researchers who appear more than once. Just looking at the number of Harvard researchers for a few minutes, I have noticed that David M Sabatini, primary affiliation MIT with secondary affiliations at Broad Institute Harvard and MIT, is listed  for Biology and Biochemistry and also for Molecular Biology and Genetics.

Eric S Lander, primary affiliations with Broad Institute Harvard and MIT and secondary affiliations with MIT and Harvard, is listed three times for  Biology and Biochemistry, Clinical Medicine and Molecular Biology and Genetics.

Frank B Hu, primary affiliation with Harvard and secondary affiliation with King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia, is listed under Agricultural Sciences, Clinical Medicine and Molecular Biology and Genetics.

This no doubt represents the reality of scientific research in which a single researcher might well excel in two or more closely related fields but if ARWU are just going to count the number of researchers in the new list there will be distortions if some are counted more than once.

The new list refers to achievements over the period 2002-12. Unlike the old list, which just counted the number of citations, the new one is based on normalisation by field -- 21 in this case -- and by year of publication. In other words, it is not the number of citations that matters but the numbers in relation to the world average for field and year of citation.

TR acknowledge that there is a problem resulting from the growing number of massively cited, multi-authored papers and reviews, especially in the subfields of Particle and High-Energy Physics. To deal with this issue they have excluded from the analysis papers in Physics with more than thirty institutional addresses.

I do not know if TR are planning on doing this for their data for the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. If they are, places like Panjab University are in for a nasty shock.

Another noticeable thing about the new lists is the large number of  secondary affiliations. In many cases the joint affiliations seem quite legitimate. For example, there are many researchers in subjects such as Biology and Biochemistry with affiliation to an Ivy League school and a nearby hospital or research institute. On the other hand, King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah has 150 secondary affiliations. Whether Thomson Reuters or ARWU will be able to determine that these represent a genuine association is questionable.

The publication of the new lists is further evidence  that citations can be used to measure very different things. It would be unwise for any ranking organisation to use only one citations based indicator or only one database.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Circulation of Data

Times Higher Education has a piece about the most highly educated cities in the world. First, of course, is London, followed by Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco (presumably including Berkeley) and Stockholm. The data comes from a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the international financial services company, which includes information about the percentage of the population with degrees and the ranking of universities in the city by (surprise!) Times Higher Education.

Boston is not in the top ten because it was not evaluated by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Note that the  rankings indicator is based only on those that actually take part in the THE rankings. So London's score would not be affected by places like London Metropolitan University or the University of East London.

Looking at the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, the most important indicator might be the PISA scores, which suggest that the future belongs not to London or Paris but to Shanghai.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Are they having fun in Shanghai?

Harvey Mudd College is a very expensive highly ranked private school with a strong emphasis on the teaching of engineering and technology. The US News and World Report 2013 rankings have it in 12th place among national liberal arts colleges, second for master's engineering schools and fourth for computer engineering. Even so, it seems that some feel that it is a failure because it is not getting enough women to take courses in key disciplines such as computer science.

The new president, Maria Klawe, is taking care of that.

The new introductory class for Computer Science at Harvey Mudd is designed for those who did not go to computer camp in high school and is supposed to be interesting. Students edit Darth Vader's voice and on one test the answer to every question is 42 ( guess what the media would say if that happened in an underachieving inner city high school). If you are not amused by the joke about 42 you should forget about going to Harvey Mudd.

The course used to be about programming and was dominated by "geeky know it alls" who have now been told to mind their manners and shut up. Programming in Java has been replaced by Python.

"It was so much fun; it was so much fun" said one student.

Also, all female first year students go to attend a conference on women in computing .

And so, at Harvey Mudd 40% of computer science majors are now women. Bridgette Eichelberger switched from engineering to computer science because the fun of engineering was nothing compared to the happiness of computer science.

Meanwhile over at Berkeley, the introductory computer science course is now called the "Beauty and Joy of Computing".

Someday universities in Shanghai, Seoul and Taipei may start turning their faculties of science and engineering into places where the daughters of the 1%, or maybe the 5%, can find fun and happiness and from which  repellent geeks and nerds have been cleansed. Until that happens the universities and corporations of the US have cause to be very very afraid.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

The World's Top Global Thinkers

And finally the results are out. The world's leading thinker, according to a poll conducted by Prospect magazine, is the economist Armatya Sen, followed by Raghuram Rajan, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, and the novelist Arundhati Roy.

Sen received degrees from the the University of Calcutta and Cambridge and has taught at Jadavpur University, LSE, Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard. Rajan has degrees from IIT Delhi, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and MIT. Roy studied architecture at the School of Architecture and Planning in Delhi.

The careers of Sen and Ragan illustrate a typical feature of Indian higher education, some excellent undergraduate teaching but somehow the outstanding students end up leaving India.

Prospect notes that the poll received "intense media interest in India" so it would be premature to conclude that the country has become the new global Athens.

The top non-Asian thinker is Pope Francis.

Personally, I am disappointed that the historian Perry Anderson only got 28th place.  I am also surprised that feminist and queer theorist Judith Butler, whose brilliant satire -- Hamas as part of the global left and so on -- is under-appreciated, was only 21st.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Two Articles in New York Times

Sunday's New York Times had twoarticles on international rankings. The first, by D. D. Guttenplan, is 'Re-Evaluating the College Rankings Game' and includes interviews with Angela Yung Chi Hou of the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan, Ellen Hazelkorn and myself.

The second by Aisha Labi is about the recently published U-Multirank rankings which are sponsored by the European Union.

Monday, June 02, 2014

What should India do about the rankings?

India seems to be suffering from ranking fever. This is a serious problem that periodically sweeps across countries with the national media echoing statements from university heads and bureaucrats about being in the top one hundred or two hundred of something in the next few years or passionate claims that rankings do not reflect the needs of local society or that the uniquely transformative features of this or that institution -- how dare they ignore our sensitivity training or sustainability programs! --  are not recognised by the rankers.

There is  now a lot of debate about which is the best university in India and also about why Indian institutions, especially the sometimes lauded Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), have a modest impact on the international rankings.

So what do the various rankings say about the quality of Indian universities (counting the IITs and other Institutes)? Starting with Webometrics, which measures the Internet presence of universities,  first place in India goes to IIT Bombay, 517th in the world, followed by IIT Madras, The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, IIT Kanpur and the University of Delhi.

Moving on to research based rankings, only one Indian university is ranked in  Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) top 500, and that is the IISc in the 301-400 band.

Scimago Institutional Rankings in their 2013 default list of number of publications, also puts IISc in first place in India, followed by IIT Kharagur, IIT Delhi, the University of Delhi, and IIT Madras.

The Leiden Ranking has the IISc in first place for number of publications although IIT Roorkee is first for publications in high quality journals.

Looking at the research-only rankings then, the best bet for top place would be the IISc which is ranked first in India by ARWU, Scimago, and, for number of publications, by Leiden Ranking, although for quality of research the IITs at Roorkee, Delhi and Guwahati perform comparatively well.

Moving on to rankings that attempt to assess factors other than research, we find that in the most recent QS World and Asian University Rankings first place in India goes to IIT Delhi with IIT Bombay second and IIT Kanpur third.

Last year's Times Higher Education world rankings produced an unusual result. Panjab University (PU) was ranked in the 226-250 band well ahead of the IITs Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Roorkee in the 350 - 400. In this case, Panjab university's feat was entirely due to its massive score for citations, 84.7 compared to IIT Delhi's 38.5, a score that was in stark contrast to a very poor 14 for research.

The main reason for PU's whopping score for citations appears to be that a few of its physicists are involved in the Large Hadron Collider project, which involves more than 2000 physicists in more than 150 research centers and 37 countries and consequently produces a huge number of citations. PU gets the credit for all of those citations even though its contribution to the cited papers is extremely small.

This only works because the overall number of papers produced is low. Hundreds or even thousands of citations are of little incremental value if they are spread out over thousands or tens of thousands of papers.

It would be unwise for other Indian universities to emulate PU's approach to get into the THE rankings. For one thing they would have to keep total publications low. For another, they may find that highly cited researchers might be a tempting target for universities in the US or Australia. And it does not work for any other ranking.

It is noticeable that The IISc is not included in the QS or THE rankings, presumably as a result of its own choice.

Should India's universities try to improve their ranking performance? Perhaps, but it would be better if they focused on improving their research performance, admissions policies, administration and selection processes. And here there is a much bigger problem for India, the utterly dismal performance of the country's school system.

In 2009, students from Tamil Nadu and Himachel Pradesh, which do better than the Indian average on social and economic development measures, took the PISA test. They were just ahead of the lowest ranked Kirgystan.

Riaz Haq writes:

"In Tamil Nadu, only 17% of students were estimated to possess proficiency in reading that is at or above the baseline needed to be effective and productive in life. In Himachal Pradesh, this level is 11%. “This compares to 81% of students performing at or above the baseline level in reading in the OECD countries, on an average,” said the study. 
The average Indian child taking part in PISA2009+ is 40 to 50 points behind the worst students in the economic superstars. Even the best performers in Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh - the top 5 percent who India will need in science and technology to complete globally - were almost 100 points behind the average child in Singapore and 83 points behind the average Korean - and a staggering 250 points behind the best in the best.
The average child in HP & TN is right at the level of the worst OECD or American students (only 1.5 or 7.5 points ahead). Contrary to President Obama's oft-expressed concerns about American students ability to compete with their Indian counterparts, the average 15-year-old Indian placed in an American school would be among the weakest students in the classroom, says Lant Pritchett of Harvard University. Even the best TN/HP students are 24 points behind the average American 15 year old."

If this does not change, there is very little that anyone can do to improve the status of India's universities, apart from importing large numbers of Finnish, Chinese or Korean students, teachers and researchers.