Monday, 18 October 2021

New QS 2022 Arab university rankings show Egypt continuing to make strides, with more private unis featured

New QS 2022 Arab university rankings show Egypt continuing to make strides, with more private unis represented: After our look last week at how Egypt is raised its profile in international university rankings, Egypt’s universities continue their ranking ascension with the QS 2022 World University Rankings: Arab Region, released last week. The latest rankings, in which Egypt tied with Saudi Arabia for the largest number of universities included, saw 31 Egyptian institutions featured, including six new entrants.

AUC, Cairo University and Ain Shams were the three top-scoring Egyptian universities in the newly-released rankings, with AUC and Cairo University maintaining their 11th and 12th positions for a second year, while Ain Shams inched up one spot from the 2021 list.

Private universities have upped their game in this one as well: Eight of the 31 Egyptian universities in this year’s QS Arab university regional rankings are private institutions — up from five out of 25 Egyptian universities that made the cut last year. Along with AUC, we have Future University (51-60), GUC (71-80), Nile University (91-100), AASTMT (101-110), BUE (101-110), 6 October University (151-180), and Pharos University (151-180).

But while more Egyptian unis were featured this year, some of the strongest performers slipped a little. The number of Egyptian institutions featured in the top 50 of this year’s QS regional rankings slipped to six in 2022, from seven in 2021, continuing a downward trend from 2020, when nine Egyptian institutions were among the region’s top 50. Among top-50 institutions, Alexandria University slipped from 18th to 21st place, Mansoura University fell one spot to land in 29th, and Assiut University dropped from 32nd to 35th.

Egyptian universities’ performance in the regional rankings follows the same trend seen in the QS global rankings: The QS World University Rankings 2022, released in June, noted strong overall gains from Egypt’s universities. 13 Egyptian universities were featured out of roughly 1.3k universities from all over the world ranked by QS this year, up from nine last year. But Egypt’s top performers were down: AUC fell to 445 from 411 in 2021 and Cairo University to 571-580 from 561-570. Ain Shams remained steady at 801-1000.

The results differ substantially from the newly-launched THE Arab University Rankings: Egypt generally fared better in the Times Higher Education Arab University Rankings, inaugurated in July, as we noted last week. THE includes 19 Egyptian universities in the region’s top 50 — and puts different names in Egypt’s top spots. Zewail City of Science and Technology is ranked number 10, Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) is number 11, and Mansoura University is number 13.

Why the discrepancy? There are major differences in the two ranking systems’ methodologies, as we’ve noted previously. THE puts a bigger emphasis on teaching, research and citations, while QS heavily weights academic reputation, employer reputation and faculty/student ratios. QS designs their rankings primarily for students, but other systems are more aimed at university leadership, a 2013 Guardian piece notes.

Both QS and THE use the same data for their World rankings and their Arab regional university lists — but it’s weighted differently. QS gives employer reputation — or how successfully a university prepares its students for the labor market — more weight in its Arab university rankings, while academic reputation and faculty-student ratio are less heavily weighted. THE gives more weight to teaching, research, and international outlook, and less to citations, in its Arab university rankings.

Having separate Arab university rankings shows ranking bodies are trying to assess universities within a distinct regional context: When QS piloted its Arab region rankings in 2014, it noted that “extensive consultation has been undertaken with university leaders in the region to identify a suitable methodology.” And when THE launched its regional rankings earlier this year, it said “the new regional table will also introduce metrics that are specific to the missions of universities across the Arab world.” This includes work on sustainability, and an academic reputation survey on universities in the region completed by published scholars. The methodology is expected to keep evolving, to reflect the changing higher education landscape in the region, THE said when announcing the new rankings.

But just how important are these rankings for universities, anyway? Rankings do matter, but it’s important to view them in context, as we’ve discussed previously. “No institution wishing to compete globally — or even nationally — can afford to ignore [rankings],” writes Imperial College professor Stephen Curry. But as well as looking at the numbers themselves, we need to be aware of the limitations of what they can measure, he adds.

Rankings focus on quantifiable metrics — which means they can’t really measure overall education quality, experts note.

Still, a strong performance in international rankings could help Egypt’s universities attract talented staff and students, Yehia Bahei El Din, BUE’s Vice President for Research & Postgraduate Studies, previously told Enterprise. In this sense, rankings are arguably more important for private universities — which recruit students — than for public ones. And strong research departments are a big pull for prospective staff members, he noted.

Your top education stories for the week:

  • Grade 4-6 students are getting classroom materials from NatGeo: National Geographic is set to provide print and digital classroom materials for 7 mn Egyptian students in grades 4-6, according to an Education Ministry statement. The materials will cover English, Social Students, Career Skills and ICT.
  • Overpopulation at the nation’s schools: High density in public schools was the talk of the town over the week as the 2021-2022 academic year kicked into full swing.
  • House throws back at Education Ministry for restricting student access to books: The Education Ministry faced backlash from the House of Representatives after a decision to hand out curriculum textbooks only to students that had paid tuition fees.
  • Decision to ban photography in schools also prompted a debate: The nation also plunged into debate following a parallel decision banning people from taking photos and videos in public schools without the ministry’s permission.

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