Rankings are the public face of performance evaluation… but to geniunely evaluate and improve the performance of universities, much more actionable measures are required.

Madam Liu Yan Dong, Vice Premier of China, is one of the most influential female political leader in China and in the world

China Vice Premier Endorsed QS work in Major speech Highlighting 5 Years Plan for Chinese Universities

 

On 8th January 2016, during an important speech in the State Council of China, highlighting China’s 13th Five-Year Plan on education(2016-2010) for nearly 3000 Chinese universities, Madam Liu Yandong quoted the latest QS World University Ranking results to demonstrated the international competitiveness of top Chinese universities have already been recognised globally. This makes QS the only world university ranking being endorsed by the top Chinese government leader.

A graduate of Tsinghua University, Liu’s career has long been associated with Hu JinTao, China’s President 2003-2013, who she has been working closely with in the Communist Youth League colleague. In 2013, she was appointed Vice Premier, second in rank, with responsibility to oversee the portfolios of health, education, and sports. Liu is the fifth-ever female Politburo member since the foundation of the PRC in 1949. Since the appointment, Madam Liu is not only the most powerful woman in the Chinese government, but also one of the most powerful in the world.

Based on the 13th Five-Year Plan of China on Education: China aims to build a group of top Chinese universities with world-class quality and reputation by 2020.

In order to achieve this ambitious goal, more than 110 “high-level” universities will be established across China in the next 5 years. Some 11 provincial regions have also come up with financial support measures, with the total amount raised close to 40 billion RMB. Shandong province said it would raise up to 5 billion RMB, while Hubei province pledged an annual investment of 1 to 2 billion RMB.

Key tasks requires to achieve those goals include focuses on student quality, innovation, international cooperation, teaching quality and so on.

The 13th Five-Year Plan of China also gives details on the students number they want to reach. For example, in 2015, the number of students receiving higher education, nine-year compulsory education, and preschool education reached 36.5 million, 140 million, and 42.7 million respectively. The Chinese government aim to increase those numbers to 38.5 million, 150 million, and 45 million by 2020. A special focus has been put on the recruitment of top international students outside China.

In the speech of Madam Liu, which is published by the official website of China’s State Council, she said: “The international reputation of China’s education has been growing from strength to strength. Some of the academic disciplines in China have already reached leading positions internationally. This has helped to gain invaluable experience for Chinese universities to developed themselves into top world-class universities with Chinese characteristics. The overall world university ranking of Chinese universities have been rising in recent years, with remarkable progress in academic papers published and international reputations. In 2015, there are 25 Chinese university in mainland China that has been included in the UK’s QS World University Ranking Top 500. ”

This major speech took place at a critical and important time for the Chinese education sector. Firstly, all the Chinese universities just finished its 12th Five Year Plan(2010-2015) and is about to start implement its next 5 year plan. Secondly, the Chinese government have not revealed details on how to allocate the next round of government funding to support all Chinese universities to implement their next 13th Five-Years Plan. Thirdly, the State Council of China aim to build more and more universities and majors which are rated as “world-class” by 2020. However, the Chinese government in the past has not made it clear which university rating systems they would adopt to evaluate the performance of Chinese Universities’ global standing. The Vice Premier’s speech quoting QS ranking to applaud the improvements of Chinese universities are strong recommendation for QS rankings to become one of the major benchmarks to guide China’s next around of education reform.

Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit, said “I am completely overwhelmed by this fantastic news. China is one of the most difficult and complicated markets in the world. It is a tremendous privilege and surprise to get endorsement from China Vice Premier for our work 2 years after I joined QS. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in my amazing dream team in QSIU and QS, without your amazing support, unswerving trust, and invaluable advice since day one I joined, this would never have been possible. Next step, let us continue working closely together to help 3000 Chinese universities of 37 million students to reach their true potentially in the next 5 years!”

(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit, speaking at a University Presidents’ Forum in China recently on the future directions for universities presidents to collaborate efficiently across borders, with top universities presidents from the UK, USA, Mexico, Thailand, Belgium, Russia and Cambodia)

reimagine

In with the new and out with old? Or lessons learnt from the past? Remembering and Re-imagining Education

In light of the upcoming Re-imagine Education Awards, the innovative global competition launched last year by QS and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to find the world’s top higher education pedagogical innovation. I started reminiscing about my own university experience, and one particular course came to mind when I looked closely at Hybrid Learning. At QSIU, we are proud to have a team with a diverse skill set, a range of over 12 languages, and have come from various different universities from around the world. Below is an account of a few QSIU team members who share their own memorable experience of past pedagogical methods that have been particularly effective.

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Shantou University-A Rising Star with Great Potential

Between 24-26th December, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director of QS Intelligence Unit was invited to visit Shantou University, the only university funded by Sir Li Ka-shing, the richest  person in Asia( based on 2014 Bloomberg Billionaires Index), with a net worth of $31.9 billion.

(Sir Li Ka-Shing spoke at the annual graduation ceremony of Shantou University)

 

Here is an update of her visit.

I have envisaged many times in dreams to visit Shantou University. When I actually visited it, I would certainly say it is far beyond any expectation, although in a different way.

I have been a big fan of Sir Li Ka-shing since the first time I read about his story, but not by how successful he is as a business leader, but by all the great virtues he has demonstrated throughout his career as a kind and humble man. I got to know Shantou University when I was watching a documentary of Li, when 1/4 of the documentary was talking about the tremendous efforts made by all stakeholders to create Shantou University in 1981 and develop it into one of the most enterprising and emerging university in Shantou, a less-well developed coastal area of Southeast China.

Shantou was one of the original Special Economic Zones of the People’s Republic of China established in 1981, but did not blossom in the same manner that cities such as ShenzhenXiamen and Zhuhai did.  I guess when Shantou University was first created, Li Ka-Shing would expect Shantou University to seize the great opportunity of the newly established Special Economic Zone and develop quickly. However, the overall economic development in Shantou has not been that quick as expected. This also impact on the development of the university.

(A picture of Shantou Special Economic Zone)

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University

Global geographies of higher education: The perspective of world university rankings

Over the past decade, annually published world university rankings have captured the attention of university managers, policy makers, employers, academics and the wider public. Many national governments have implemented neoliberal reforms in higher education and increased the autonomy of their universities to enhance international competitiveness. Several universities have adjusted their strategic plans to climb up the ranks, while fee-paying international students often consult such league tables as a guide of where they can expect to receive ‘value for money’.

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The lowdown on self-citations

Self-citations are often a point of discussion when it comes to ranking season, and never more than this year when, for the first time, we have had access to the necessary data to be able to remove self-citations from our consideration thanks to additional data supplied by Elsevier from Scopus this year, but what does that really mean?

Simply put, a self-citation is an author citing their own previous work. Many leading academics may have every reason to do so having been responsible for some of the seminal works in their field, other academics may engineer opportunity to do so in order to influence their personal h-index or their institutional metrics. Either way, self-citations are a fact of life and can potentially be used contructively to trach threads of research and map academic careers.

As with many things there are a number of different ways the impact of self-citations can be viewed:

  • Of all of the institutions we looked at the institution with the largest absolute number of self-citations, by some margin, is Harvard with over 93,000 representing 12.9% of their overall citations count
  • The top five institutions producing over 3,000 papers, in terms of proportion of self-citations are all in Eastern Europe – St Petersburg State University, Czech Technical University, Warsaw University of Technology, Babes-Bolyai University and Lomonosov Moscow State University
  • The top five in terms of the difference in citations per paper when self-citations are excluded are Caltech, Rockefeller, UC Santa Cruz, ENS Lyon and the University of Hawaii
  • And the top 10 in terms of the difference in citations per faculty when self-citations are included are:
# Institution Country
1 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) United States
2 Rockefeller University United States
3 Stanford University United States
4 Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) South Korea
5 Karolinska Institute United States
6 Princeton University United States
7 Leiden University Netherlands
8 Harvard University United States
9 University of California, San Diego (UCSD) United States
10 University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) United States

Caltech have been perennially number one, amongst institutions featured in the main ranking, for this indicator and nothing has changed this year, although due to the impact of removing self-citations the gap has closed somewhat in the underlying ratios and for some institutions further down the tables, this revision in the methodology may be felt more keenly.

Influence of age on university “performance”

by Ben Sowter

 

The world is changing. And fast.

Higher education is no exception. In Saudi Arabia there are 28 universities, 22 of which were founded after the turn of the millenia. Economies worldwide are turning to the ever enticing notion of creating a “knowledge economy”. I read somewhere that we have generated more written content since 2003 than the in the whole of human history until that point.

In that environment – whilst rankings such as ours may treat all institutions equally – the reality is that date of establishment clearly has a part to play in the current success profile of universities. In broad terms, universities over 100 years old, and perhaps those over 50, have already reached their “terminal velocity” – the combination of reputation, government funding, scale of operation, organisational culture, international mix and alumni profile have reached a degree of equilibrium which makes radical shifts in performance – as measured by rankings or otherwise – exceedingly difficult to impose.

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