The Times Higher Education (THE) rankings measure an institution's performance across five criteria – teaching, research, citations, industry income and international outlook.
Professor of English at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), Syed Manzoorul Islam, told The Business Standard that Bangladeshi universities score poorly in the individual performance indicators of the global rankings, which leads to a decline in the overall score.
"Research is key when it comes to securing a good position in the rankings. Our quality of research is poor. That is why the research we produce fails to meet international standards," he said.
"We also need good researchers who can produce top-class research. The whole teacher selection process is politically influenced. When this is the situation, the quality of research is being compromised," the educationist explained.
"Where the research is published also carries importance. Is our research being published in good peer-reviewed journals? Otherwise, the research will suffer from poor recognition."
Manzoorul underscored the need for affiliation with top-ranking foreign universities in order to grow academic collaboration, saying this would help make better global academic connections.
"We cannot attract foreign students because we do not have affiliation with good universities in other countries. There was a time when international students would take interest in pursuing higher education in our institutions. That is not the case anymore."
Manzoorul's observation is reflected in THE ranking of the University of Dhaka. The share of international students in this institution is 0%.
He said the University of Dhaka has no academic collaboration with any of the Ivy League universities in America.
Ivy League is used to refer to eight American universities as a group of elite institutions. The eight members are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University.
"Our PhD evaluations are done with our own academics only. This should not be the case. There is no foreign academic in the evaluation body. As many as 60% of the PhD research methodology in our country is weak," explained the eminent academician.
Manzoorul said Bangladeshi research also suffers from lack of international citations, which is of outmost importance.
"Our research has to be cited internationally. The number of times it has been cited is important too. I would say citations of our science research is OK but that of other disciplines is very poor."
The former Dhaka University professor suggested a number of steps that are necessary to improve the quality of universities.
"First, we need to be selective about the students we admit. I have seen freshers who cannot even write two error-free sentences in English. We need to focus less on who scored higher GPAs in public exams and more on real achievement of proficiency.
"Our quality of teaching as well as teaching methods have to be improved. Moreover, the prevalent influence of student politics in universities has to be curbed," he added.
"If we can make improvements in the performance indicators of the university ranking system, we will possibly see a change in the positions of our universities in the league table in 10 years. Otherwise, our ranks will not improve even in 100 years," Manzoorul remarked.