Malaysian universities fail to make an impact in an annual global rankings list for institutions that are reputed for their teaching and research.
NO Malaysian university has made the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2012, which rank the world’s top 100 institutions by their academic reputation alone.
The reputation rankings act as a global index of academic prestige, revealing which institutions are regarded as the best for teaching and research by many thousands of experienced scholars all over the world.
It is an annual reputation rankings, which complement the World University Rankings, and are based on the world’s largest survey of academic opinion and provide a unique insight into the shifting academic prestige of institutions.
Reputation both reflects and drives university success — helping to attract staff, students, business investment, research partners and benefactions in a highly competitive global market.
Times Higher Education Rankings editor Phil Baty said the top top 100 list represents only around 0.5 percent of the world’s higher education institutions, so to make it is an exceptional achievement.
In terms of representation in the top 100 list, the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) are followed by Japan and the Netherlands with five institutions each, and Germany, Australia and France with four each.
“In total, 19 countries are on the list, and the US takes 44 of the places, so competition is very tough. But many governments would be keen to see at least one national flagship institution in a list like this – demonstrating that they are competing among the very best in the world, and ensuring they are driving the economy with cutting edge research and attracting the best academic talent,” he told StarEducate.
Harvard University tops the World Reputation Rankings followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Cambridge.
The reputation rankings are based on the results of an Academic Reputation Survey carried out by the professional polling company Ipsos for Times Higher Education’s rankings data supplier, Thomson Reuters.
Respondents to the academic reputation survey (available in nine languages) are asked to name a very small number who are “the best” in both teaching and research, based on their specialist subject knowledge and their experience and they are given a list of around 6,000 institutions to choose from.
“So in that sense, if academics think you are doing exciting and excellent teaching and research, you will appear in the rankings.
“The survey is invitation-only and is statistically representative of global scholarship, so there is nothing any institution can do to get in the list, other than have a high profile and be well known for excellence all over the world.
“The only way to get a properly balanced and fair sample is to select each respondent to be statistically representative of both their country and their discipline — it is wrong to let people sign up and volunteer,” he said.
For the 2012 table, some 44% of responses were from the Americas, with 28% from Europe and 25% from Asia Pacific and the Middle East. About 20% of respondents were from the physical sciences and engineering and technology respectively wih 19% from social sciences, 17% in clinical subjects, 16% in life sciences and seven percent in the arts and humanities.
This year’s results are based on a record 17,554 responses from senior, published academics in 137 countries, and is up by 31% on last year’s poll of 13,388 academics.
Baty said factors that would raise any institution’s profile would include making sure its academics are publishing cutting-edge research, attending the right conferences, are part of the right networks, forging international partnerships and producing the best graduates.
He said the rankings is a list of the world’s top 100 universities but those in the 51 to100 are grouped into bands of 10.
“This is in the interests of fairness, as the data differentials between institutions become very narrow lower down the table,” he added.
He said Malaysian institutions did receive nominations, but not enough to make the top 100 list. It was not possible to name them as response numbers were “insufficiently large to allow proper statistical significance”. Malaysian universities were also not on the list last year.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said Malaysian universities need to strengthen their fundamentals first.
“You don’t see a sudden jump in a few months,” he said when asked to comment on the lack of Malaysian institutions on the list.
“What I can say is that, even though the survey is in multiple languages, The response rate from Asia generally is slightly lower than we get from other parts of the worlds.
“We therefore compensate by giving the results from that region a slightly higher weighting so that the real term number of responses per region corresponds to the populations of academics and researchers as reported by Unesco.
“This overcomes any bias caused by differing response rates and ensures that the each region is fairly represented in the survey,” explained Baty.
Although the US continues to dominate the global top 100 ranking, East Asian universities in general have improved in their standing, signalling the start of a power shift from West to East.
“Japan has maintained an outstanding showing in the global top 100 reputation rankings, with two universities in the world top 20.
“But there is also a very exciting group of East Asian countries or regions enjoying significant increases in the prestige of their universities — with China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore all seeing their top universities rising up the reputation table.
“This is against some notable drops for some big-name institutions in the US and UK.
“When it comes to exciting developments in higher education, all eyes are facing East.
“There are clear signs of the start of a power shift from West to East,” explained Baty.
Outside the US, the UK has the most top 100 representatives with 10 universities, but this has declined from 12 last year. Both Oxford and Cambridge maintain their positions in the top six supergroup. The University of Sheffield, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are out of the top 100 altogether.
Japan has five representatives — the University of Tokyo, the University of Kyoto, the University of Osaka and the University of Tohoku and Tokyo Institute of Technology. China has two representatives in the top 100 – Tsinghua University and Peking University. The University of Hong Kong has entered the top 40. The National University of Singapore has also climbed up the list.
“But while top reputations can take many years, even centuries to build, in today’s information-rich, fast-moving and interconnected world, universities can not sit back and rely on their history.
“New forces are emerging and signs of declining performance among the establishment are quickly identified, shared and spread. Established reputations can be highly vulnerable,” he explained.
For more information on the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2012, log onto http://