An official list of the country’s top rated universities was released on Friday by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in Islamabad when it launched its “Quality and Research based Ranking 2013.”
The rankings are divided into four discipline-based and three enrolment-based categories. Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) ranked as the top university in business education, while Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Science (PIEAS), Islamabad, was declared best in engineering and technology category.
According to HEC’s ranking, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, secured the top spot in the agriculture/veterinary category, while Aga Khan University, Karachi, once again ranked as the number one medical university in the country.
The general universities category was divided into three sub-categories based on their respective enrolment size. Universities with more than 7,000 students were considered for the large sub-category, between 3,000 and 7,000 students for the medium sub-category and less than 3,000 for the small sub-category.
The National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) stood first in the general universities large category, while Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, got the top slot in the medium category.
Meanwhile, University of Faisalabad was ranked the best university in the general universities small category.
Commenting on the release, HEC chairman Javaid Laghari said the rankings were based on criteria developed after feedback from universities and international rankings models.
“The basis behind releasing the rankings is a mirror-test, the rankings let universities know their strengths and weaknesses,” Laghari said.
He said the ranking exercise was to identify the best ranked universities nationally through some form of quantitative measure, so these universities can also compete at the international level.
However, the education body did not release an overall list of university rankings. Laghari said it was too difficult to equalise data in different categories to form a consolidated list.
In addition to the national rankings, seven Pakistani universities secured spots in top 250 Asian universities for 2013 by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a UK-based university rankings agency.
For the 2013 HEC rankings, each university has been named only once in the rankings, Laghari explained. He said the universities themselves chose which category they wanted to be considered for. For example, NUST opted for general category rather than the engineering and technology category.
The HEC rankings are based on the performance of Pakistani universities between 2011 and 2012. Universities were ranked based on the following three areas: implementation status of quality assurance, teaching quality and research produced at the universities.
Implementation status of quality assurance included points for appointment criteria of faculty members, anti-plagiarism committees and peer perception.
The teaching quality points were further subdivided into eight areas including student-teacher ratio and teacher evaluation.
For the research components, universities were scored for 11 different areas including publications in HEC recognized journals and total PhD output of universities for 2011.
Even though HEC research grants, HEC travel grants and HEC approved PhD supervisors were included in the ranking criteria for research, Laghari said the rankings were conducted in a neutral manner and non-HEC funding at universities was also considered.
University vice chancellors gathered at the rankings press conference suggested the HEC should consider the services of an independent, third-party organisation for rankings in the future.
Laghari said he agreed with the suggestion and the education body is going to advertise for the services of an independent group to perform university rankings the next time around.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2013.