Universities fault HEC’s ranking methodology

Published: July 10, 2013
The tertiary education panel discarded two heads from the criteria because of data collection troubles. PHOTO: FILE

The tertiary education panel discarded two heads from the criteria because of data collection troubles. PHOTO: FILE


The university rankings released by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) last week have come under serious heat from institutions that did not find themselves a place on the list. A number of universities have pointed out loopholes in methodology and questioned the HEC.

Since the release of the rankings the HEC Quality Assurance Cell has been flooded with phone calls from different universities questioning the methodology it used.

“The HEC immediately needs to withdraw the incorrect and misleading rankings of higher educational institutions in Pakistan for 2012 and 2013,” said Dr Shahid Amjad Chaudhry, Rector of the Lahore School of Economics (LSE)

The HEC had displayed its criteria on its website and asked universities to submit data against the said heads which will be considered in rankings. The heads included ‘explanatory notes’, an ‘employer perception survey’ and a ‘peer perception survey’, whereas 10 points were to be awarded as per the varsities’ data.

It is important to note that Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Guardian and Thompson Reuters use the same heads for international ranking of the universities.

The HEC, however, independently decided to disregard the two heads of employer perception and explanatory notes, making the university rankings a hotbed of controversy and finger-pointing.

Moreover, the international rankings divide universities according to their age: under 50, over 50, but the HEC has clubbed all institutions together for the purpose of rankings which is unfair to small, newly established universities, criticised Iqtidar Khanzada, Director Quality Assurance at Bahria University Islamabad.

“Our university has maintained the position it had in 2011 but giants like National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and Punjab University are also competing with small universities like ours, which receive no grants from the HEC,” he added.

The University of Faisalabad, Faisalabad topped in the general-small category while Beaconhouse National University, Lahore was ranked second in the same category. These institutions were, however, placed 59th and 98th, respectively, by another HEC report on research publications for the period 2009-11.

With the HEC allocating 36 points out of 100 for research, such universities being placed in the top 5 in any category have put strong questions about the credibility of the rankings issued by the HEC on July 5. “Such things are to be counterchecked. What was the criterion of ranking these universities when they are doing so poorly in research, which is the basic aim of a university,” said an HEC official on condition of anonymity.

The rejoinder

HEC chairperson Javaid Laghari told The Express Tribune that university rankings across the globe tend to be controversial as all of Harvard, Oxford or MIT claim to be the best university in the world, but they have to accept the rankings.

When asked about the two heads being disregarded, he said that data collection for the employer perception survey was impossible and hence, the head was dropped. Regarding the other head, he said that he could not exactly recall why the head was discarded in the computation for university rankings.

He rejected the claim that ranking agencies club universities age-wise, saying that Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is not centuries old, but it is still considered one of the leading institutions in the world.

The HEC chairperson said that the HEC would not have an issue with a credible third party organisation like the British Council compiling an independent and transparent ranking for the next year.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Mannan
    Jul 10, 2013 - 10:07AM

    Seems like everything is controversial in Pakistan .. :)


  • AHmed
    Jul 10, 2013 - 10:23AM

    Lahore School of Economics (LSE) is far better than most of the universities that are ranked higher by HEC. Only after LUMS, graduates from LSE grab second highest salaries in the market (Business graduates) as compared to students coming out of Punjab University, Comsats, etc. Moreover, it is hard to get admission in LSE and those who join universities like PU and Comsats are the ones who do not get admission in LSE. In addition to all this, LSE MBA graduates do quite well in business games and extravaganzas organized by universities like FAST and LUMS. Records speak, no LSE graduate is unemployed today.


  • Asim
    Jul 10, 2013 - 11:20AM

    Please do not forget IBA here- the university that produces the best graduates, taken in by corporations at an instant!

    LUMS and LSE are relative newbies trying to compete with the market dominated by IBA graduates.


  • ptr
    Jul 10, 2013 - 11:29AM

    But IBA is far better as compared to LSE.
    So Lahore School of Economics deserves to be on 3rd.
    Plus I don’t know why there is no ranking for IT/Computer Science universities’


  • saad
    Jul 10, 2013 - 12:13PM

    hahaha will Iqra be back???… how can they remove the No.1 in karachi. ( no offence to cbm)


  • student
    Jul 10, 2013 - 12:30PM

    Not sure what the lse are trying to prove. Admission in lse is on a first come first served basis.
    All my friends who culdn’t get a single A in their (O and A levels).

    That said, their is no doubt that lse indeed has market name and is well known maybe because of its sheer physical size, lavish campus and the large quantity of people it attracts.


  • Tim
    Jul 10, 2013 - 12:50PM

    Danish School out beats all the universities


    Jul 10, 2013 - 12:51PM

    i am getting 145000+ graduated from COMSATS in 2011.


  • Liaqat
    Jul 10, 2013 - 12:56PM

    University ranking is a highly sensitive matter and contrary to our normal beliefs the tough criteria for admission hardly determines the quality of education and career prospects the degree of a particular University will offer.


  • Mystic
    Jul 10, 2013 - 1:08PM

    With so much ‘scholarship’ available to the universities, the complaining universities should collaborate and come up with an alternative ranking system acceptable to them. No one’s stopping them.


  • Nawaz
    Jul 10, 2013 - 1:12PM

    I bet the Beaconhouse has been ranked among the top because of Sartaj Aziz, PML-N and Laghari is yearning for extension.


  • Asad
    Jul 10, 2013 - 1:43PM

    @Asim: I’m an IBA grad but sorry to burst your (and my) bubble, LUMS has gotten way ahead in terms on education and placement. Relative newbie sure, but that makes the lag even more embarrassing for IBA.


  • Wise guy
    Jul 10, 2013 - 2:08PM

    We do not need to know how much you earn. If you have the intellectual courage to say something relevant then please do!


  • Gemini
    Jul 10, 2013 - 2:28PM

    I was too shocked when I saw Iqra University on 3rd in the category of Business and Education LOL


  • Osman
    Jul 10, 2013 - 3:01PM

    LSE’s claim to be the second best business institute in the country is absolutely laughable, it isn’t even in the same league as the likes of lums and iba, applicants who get rejected elsewhere get admission at LSE, it is well documented that nobody ever really gets rejected from LSE, hence the abbreviation LSE = Lahore school for Everyone


  • Farhan
    Jul 10, 2013 - 3:07PM

    Rankings never work and are useless. There are only two divisions, top universities and the rest.
    To be part of top lot, university does not need to depend on others to judge, they can improve their product and prove their real worth.


  • LUMS
    Jul 10, 2013 - 3:34PM

    @Osman: “it is well documented that nobody ever really gets rejected from LSE” I don’t think that’s true. My first cousin got rejected from LSE and he is know studying in UK. Ranking is Based on a lot of factors, one Major Factor which has a great impact on University Ranking is “Research”. I admit LSE doesn’t match with LUMS & IBA in this regard, but there is one other factor which is also a very important one in rating a university, and that is PLACEMENT (which is btw missing in HEC’s ranking criteria). There are many Multinationals and NCs which hire MTOs solely from LSE. (80% of their MTOs are from LSE) e.g. Fatima Fertilizer, Haleeb Foods Limited, Metro Cash n Carry, Coca Cola Pakistan, Habib Metropolitan Bank & UBL Bank etc. You can call their HR office to confirm this. Most companies who used to prefer LUMS graduates now prefer LSE grads (bcz they stick to one job much longer than a LUMS grad and are happy to have a starting salary of 35k-40k), but still as of today LUMS is better than LSE but only in terms of studies not in PLACEMENTs
    If you just talk about GETTING A JOB, then there are only three universities you should consider.
    1) IBA
    2) LUMS
    3) LSE


  • Asim
    Jul 10, 2013 - 4:48PM

    I studied at a time in IBA, which was surely its worst but things have improved over the last few years, or so I have heard. Nonetheless, the content and the way of teaching at LUMS might still be better but as for placements, I disagree with you. IBA is still the better of the two. Location and the mix of the batches is also a factor. Whereas, more than 80% of the IBA graduates are from Karachi, LUMS only has 1/3rd at most from Karachi. And as majority of the headoffices are stationed in Karachi, IBA grads are much better placed to latch onto better opportunities available in Karachi (plus most of the remaining non- Karachi grads also stay back in Karachi for a few years atleast). LUMS non- Karachi grads do not tend to move out of their home towns where the opportunities are not as great generally than available in Karachi (apart from Telcos).

    But the article was which is the better university overall- LUMS does have an edge overall vs. IBA.

    LSE on the other hand has still some way to go…


  • Ehsan
    Jul 10, 2013 - 5:41PM

    @LUMS: LUMS and IBA are better in research – LOL – sir talk about the business school only and both LUMS and IBA have less than 10 publications in last 5 years from their faculty – While LSE has much more (this data is on base of Thomson JCR). The flaw is that they include publications from SSE and Social Sciences school as part of LUMS and credit it towards business education. And before bursting, please have a look at profiles from LUMS website and see their publications in Journals (Case studies are never recognised by HEC)


  • omz
    Jul 10, 2013 - 8:57PM

    well it didnt take long for the LUMS/IBA fanboys to crawl out of the woodwork, did it?


  • Saima
    Jul 10, 2013 - 10:13PM

    Will HEC come out with any question raised over the serious kind of loopholes in this news report?


  • From Playboy to Prayboy
    Jul 11, 2013 - 12:12AM

    Matlab maan lya k NED UET might not be the top engineering uni in Pak, but for god’s sake- it definitely deserves a spot above unis like Dawood and Sir Syed.


  • Morons
    Jul 11, 2013 - 5:44PM

    NED is definitely above Mehran!!!


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