The University of the Philippines (UP) was once again named as one of the leading universities in the country for the year 2024, ranking first based on the data from Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), while running second according to Times Higher Education (THE). These well-known organizations have been providing world university rankings for years, but do their analytics actually measure the quality of education and learning experiences in these universities?
Assessment of higher education performance is crucial for the universities, the students, and even the government. Data analytics are advantageous for institutions to recognize their strengths and to examine which part of their education system could be improved. High school students, meanwhile, can utilize this information to weigh their university options based on key factors they deem important for their tertiary education.
THE focuses on research-related standards in ranking world universities. Their indicators, modified into a new methodology just recently, are classified into five categories—each with its own criteria—namely teaching, research environment, research quality, international outlook, and industry. In the year 2024, they considered over 1,900 universities.
QS, on the other hand, has nine indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty-student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, international students ratio, international research network, employment outcomes, and sustainability. Their rankings include approximately 1,500 institutions.
While, as indicated previously, university rankings are significant on some level, they may not reflect the holistic learning experience provided by the institution to its students, which is a major factor in education system quality. Considering the criteria of the two organizations, it is evident that their assessment of universities is confined to only a few indicators—with research-related standards as the key basis for THE rankings, and reputation surveys as the major criteria made by QS.
UP, regarded as the national university of the Philippines, is known for its numerous alumni who significantly contributed to the country’s national development, with exceptional leaders in healthcare, politics, and sciences, to name a few. Without a doubt, UP knows how to produce outstanding students. Reinforced by the recent university rankings, UP has again elevated its reputation both in the national and international scene.
However, as of the time of writing, UP students and faculty still experience difficulties in the education system of the university.
UP Los Baños students have yet to experience a smooth enrollment process due to the constant malfunctioning of the constituent’s registration site. Additional student spaces on campus are one of the calls of UP Diliman students. Moreover, and what seems like the underlying and major cause of the university’s struggles, the entire UP system continues to experience budget cuts from the government.
With all these problems directly affecting the whole studentry and the UP’s performance, the recently released university rankings may have been no more than a measurement of the institution’s global reputation and an indication of its prestige as a powerhouse of groundbreaking research and development.
The learning and teaching experiences are, indeed, way harder to quantify and can only be assessed thoroughly not by numbers, but by the students and professors themselves.
Having a sense of urgency in resolving the national university’s recurrent concerns is the least thing the government and the UP administration can do—firstly by setting aside their sole concern for higher rankings and actually seeing the real issues the students and faculty are facing at the moment. University rankings shall not become the end, but rather just one of the means to improve education quality.
If these underlying problems continue to persist, one can only expect that UP students will also continue to demand a better and more inclusive education system.