Among the four Bangladeshi universities included in the recent QS rankings, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), and the University of Dhaka are ranked within the 801-1000 range, Brac University and North South University - two of the leading private universities of the country - are ranked within the 1001 – 1200 range.
Instead of improving over the years, the positions of the two leading public universities, the University of Dhaka and Buet remain unchanged every year. However, it is encouraging that North South University (NSU) and Brac University have been placed in the list on their growing merit for the first time.
Currently, there are 53 public universities as well as 91 UGC-approved private universities in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, only four of them are mentioned in the global rankings and that may affect our students in an increasingly competitive global job market.
So, what propositions should we focus on to improve the positions of our universities?
Enhancing academic reputation
According to the QS report 2022, among the four ranked Universities from Bangladesh, Dhaka University has availed 17.9% which stands for the highest academic reputation, whereas Buet scores 13.1%. But compared to these, Brac University and North South University score 7.8% and 10.9%, respectively.
These scores are far from ideal and require much improvement. But what should we do?
Academic reputation often depends on the contributions of the graduates of a certain university. While graduates from Bangladeshi universities are making strides all over the world, most people don't know or don't care because of the sheer lack of publicity.
Thus, we need to create an online-based portal, and a journal for each of our universities where our achievements, awards, campus environment, accommodations, and staff profile must be included so that world experts can get access easily while analysing university data.
Furthermore, if we can manage constructive comments about the Universities of Bangladesh by the world experts, it may enrich the academic reputation.
Management of employer reputation
In terms of employer reputation, North South University caught many of us off-guard by performing far better than other reputed universities of Bangladesh. NSU scored 32.7% in employer reputation compared to 29.7% of the University of Dhaka. Other universities such as Buet and Brac were far behind them.
Getting the opportunity to work in top MNCs (Multinational Companies) in our country where people work together from several countries. This modus operandi may help to promote Bangladeshi Universities all over the world, as experts value the inputs from many MNCs to determine the University rankings.
Improving the faculty-student ratio
The university rankings are also determined based on the number of students under a faculty. It is an important criterion because too many students per faculty can hinder the quality of education.
It is well documented that the ranking of the universities will be gratifying while fewer students are under a single faculty. The University of Dhaka got a 14% score and Buet got a score of 19.6%. Meanwhile, Brac University has gained 23.4% marks (by QS report) in this faculty-student ratio section. Unfortunately, North South University cut a sorry figure in this area- only 4.7%.
Improving the faculty-student ratio will require hiring more teachers and giving them fewer students to teach. In that way, they can impart knowledge more efficiently and fruitfully helpful for the students as well as for the improvement in university ranking.
Citation per faculty
The universities are ranked also based on the citation number belonging to the teachers under every faculty. 20% of the marks depend on whether these citations are from renowned academic journals.
Most highly ranked universities have a high citation ratio. Unfortunately, most Bangladeshi universities do not have that kind of research output.
Does it mean our faculties or our students are not good enough? Not necessarily.
Many of the same students or faculties are publishing their papers when they work for external entities, research organisations or other Western universities. Most of them identify the lack of funding as a driving factor behind the poor research output.
Incorporating international students and faculties
The number of international students and faculties at a university is another important criterion in QS rankings. Most international students do not prefer Bangladesh as a suitable destination for education as they either have universities with similar or better return on education in their own country.
Hiring international faculties may not be that difficult and might encourage more international students to attend our universities as well.
Comparing Bangladeshi universities with IIT Bombay
IIT Bombay is a prominent university from our neighbouring country India. It appears that IIT overwhelmingly outforms all Bangladeshi universities in each criterion. Globally IIT ranks 177th according to QS 2022; far better than any Bangladeshi universities.
Chart: QS scores of Bangladeshi universities against IIT Bombay. Source: QS World University Rankings 2022
Despite having similar profiles in terms of international students and faculties, IIT does significantly better when it comes to academic reputation, employer reputation and citation per faculty. So, this might serve as a benchmark for Bangladesh.
Also, staff profiles, photos of the picturesque campus, and profiles of the previous and current students help flourish the academic reputation, which we must work on constantly.
The author is a student of International relations at Jahangirnagar University. He can be reached at Sauravroyju47@gmail.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.