Alumni Factor in Educational Rankings

By Parvez Jamil

Given the fact that the role of the doer needs to be acknowledged more than that of thecritic, HEC, despite its criticized functional fixedness, continues to play a significantrole regarding quality enhancement of education. However, if HEC is open to sinceresuggestions and humble sharing from the concerned counterparts, it will indeed do aworld of good to higher education and research in Pakistan.

While HEC’s standard criteria in rating institutions of higher learning is reflective of such grading points as (A) Quality Assurance 15; (B) Teaching Quality 30; (C) Research 41; (D) Finance & Facilities 10; (E) Social Integration / Community Development 4; Total Marks 100, it is in the fitness of things to also rank placement of an institution’s graduates in job market for which contemporary education is all about.

Exploring a little beyond the illustriously worked out criteria of ranking institutions, our educational experts, especially from the HEC, would be pleasantly surprised to discover how shining alumni of such comparatively less heard institutions as Gomal University, D. I. Khan, Bahauddin Zakaria University, Multan, Islamia University, Bahawalpur and others excel with honors in the job market home and abroad.

What to talk of these so-considered non-entities as mentioned above, even IBA, IoBM, LUMS and Szabist are not judged on the basis of their graduates excelling from entry to top level positions in leading national, multinational and international organizations. With western universities, especially from North America and specifically from USA, being the HEC benchmark of education and research in many an area from introducing a four year Bachelors degree to M.Phil/PhD excellence through Impact Factor Journals (IFJs), it would also have been abler and wiser on the part of HEC to incorporate more practical and pragmatic part of their US role model.

For example HEC may find fascinating to revisit its university ranking criteria by incorporating significant points in top job placements by following its role models. In this regard, the Harvard MBA has been a hallmark of the elite, with George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Michael Bloomberg all earning this cherished degree. HEC may consider Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) using eight indicators, including alumni employability, performance and achievements to rank world's top 1000 universities:

1) Quality of Education, measured by the number of a university's alumni who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals relative to the university's size [25%]

2) Alumni Employment, measured by the number of a university's alumni who have held CEO positions at the world's top companies relative to the university's size [25%]

3) Quality of Faculty, measured by the number of academics who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals [25%]

4) Publications, measured by number of research papers appearing in reputable journals [5%]

5) Influence, measured by number of research papers appearing in influential journals [5%]

6) Citations, measured by the number of highly-cited research papers [5%]

7) Broad Impact, measured by the university's h-index [5%]

8) Patents, measured by the number of international patent filings [5%]

CWUR Rankings allocates a relatively low weighting of 25% for research, measured of major awards, and graduate employability is perversely measured on the number of alumni holding CEO positions. Consequently it must come as no surprise the amount of US institutions in the top 10, with many of the world’s largest companies run from the United States, and many international organizations desirous of US-schooled in the form of publications and citations. The number of alumni to have won awards and prizes measures this seemingly speculative performance indicator, which holds the inherent bias of privileging those older and more visible institutions likely to be at the receiving end of such prestigious awards. Another 25% of the weighting is allocated to the quality of faculty.

When HEC fancies positives from world renowned institutions, what needs to be considered along with its set criteria of university rankings, is consideration to rating for alumni excellence. Whether it is Harvard, Princeton, Yale and the like in the US or McGill, Toronto , British Columbia or Concordia in Canada, or Oxford, Cambridge, LSE or Imperial College in Britain, or for that matter, University of Singapore, Institute of Social Studies at the Hague or Institute for English Speaking Students , University of Stockholm and alike, experiential learning and alumni employability and excellence remain important segment of university rankings. While HEC university rating needs to ideally reflect of our own very value-system and socio-economic conditions, why is also the universally accepted fact of alumni employability and excellence missing from the HEC university ranking criteria!

The writer is HoD Public Affairs and Faculty, CBM, IoBM, Korangi Creek, Karachi.

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