No Pakistani university among top 20 universities of the Muslim world


By Khalid Khattak

No Pakistani university has made to the top 20 universities and institutes of the Muslim world vis-à-vis quality research, reveals the latest ranking issued by the Scientometrics Lab of Information Technology University (ITU).

The ITU’s Quality Research Rankings (ITU-QRR) ranked more than 450 universities and institutes of the Muslim world “to benchmark research performance across 250 plus subject areas for the purpose of strengthening the quality and impact of research.”

As per the ranking, King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia (in Broad Institutions category) sits atop universities and institutes of more than 30 Muslim countries with 10.82 score followed by Malaysia’s University of Malaya (10.31) and Iran’s University of Tehran (9.98).

More than half of these top 20 universities come from two countries only i.e., Turkey 7 and Iran 7 each, while three universities of Saudi Arabia, two of Malaysia and one from Egypt could secure the place in top universities of the Muslim world.

However, none of these universities from Muslim countries are even near institutions of the non-Muslim countries in terms of quality research, including those from United States, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan. Nonetheless, three of the universities are near Indian Institute of Science, India whose score is 13.38.

Among many others the ITU-QRR uses Harvard University, USA, with 100 score to benchmark research performance and if the world’s top university has a score of 100; university from Muslim world (King Abdulaziz University) gets 10.82 on that scale!  Two of the Pakistani universities; however, are counted among top 20 of Muslim countries in the category of specialized institutions. These are the Aga Khan University (on 6th place) and Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (on 13th place) with 3.48 and 2.46 score, respectively.

ITU-QRR defines broad institutes that are research active in more than eight disciplines while specialized institutions are research active between three to eight disciplines.

“This ranking presents a data-driven, independent and quantified yardstick on where our universities stand in terms of research output. Ranking of Pakistani universities should be a wake-up call for us.”—Dr Umar Saif.

Within Pakistan (in broad institutes category), the ITU-QRR ranks Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) on the top vis-à-vis quality research indicator with 3.21 score. QAU is followed by COMSATS Institute of Information Technology with 2.83 score, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad with 1.89 score, National University of Sciences and Technology with 1.44 and Punjab University with 1.33 score.

Similarly, the top Pakistan universities within the country (in Specialized Institutions category) are the Aga Khan University, Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology which are followed by Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences with 1.98 score, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) with 1.91 score and University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore with 1.23 score.



According to Dr Saeed-ul-Hassan, director at the ITU’s Scientometrics Lab, the 2017 version of rankings focuses on providing key quality dimension of research performance, thus, the publications in top quality venues are considered to rate universities and institutes. “The publications in top five percentile of normalized impact factor of journals and conferences in across subject categories are taken as highest quality publications. In addition, the ranked outlets, A* and A, from ERA CORE 2014 is also used to assess publication quality. Subject areas are organised into a hierarchy with 16 broad level and 250 plus detail level categories,” he added.

ITU’s Vice-Chancellor Dr Umar Saif says it is unfortunate that research output can be easily gamed—by publishing papers in semi-legit journals, self-organized conferences, plagiarized results etc. “We need to stop this and focus on high quality research. A lot of people are doing good quality research in Pakistan so there’s nothing wrong in the enabling environment.”

Read this to know “Five Muslim countries versus India” in Google Scholar Citations and this to know why Pakistani universities lag behind in research.




Main image source: Makin Research Center