THE top schools in the Philippines right now are the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University, according to two different international institutions that analyze and rank universities.
The UK-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) named UP as the top Philippine university based on its 2023 Asian University Rankings released earlier this month.
UP was 87th out of 760 schools that were assessed. This was, however, a drop from its 77th ranking in the previous QS assessment.
In October, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings named Ateneo as the top Philippine school based on its World University Rankings.
Ateneo was in the 351-400 bracket, and this marked its debut in the rankings published by the Times Higher Education magazine.
But what’s the big deal with these rankings, anyway?
The QS and THE analyses assess the performance of universities based on different criteria and indicators.
The QS Asia University Rankings are based on academic reputation; employer reputation; faculty/student ratio; international research network; citations per paper; staff with a PhD; proportion of international faculty; and the proportion of international students.
The rankings of the THE are based on teaching or the learning environment; research; citations; international outlook; and industry income.
The institutions’ reports are meant to serve pretty similar purposes, including helping schools to build up their reputation and to entice students to enroll in them.
The rankings also help the higher education institutions take a look at their performance and find ways to improve its different aspects. These are likewise meant to encourage dialogue about what they have been doing.
It could also bring about internal policy changes.
Higher rankings further allow universities to enter into more academic partnerships and international collaborations.
According to QS, a higher ranking for an institution would mean a better chance of getting picked by students.
The rankings could also be considered reliable sources to encourage the collection and publication of national data in higher education, it said.
For its part, THE said a university’s participation in its rankings would influence whether the university would be selected for partnership by another institution or company, or whether a funding body would invest in research in that institution.
But the institutions ranking the universities have also been criticized for the criteria they used, with some saying these were unable to get a good grasp of the quality of education being offered.
Other stakeholders noted that it seems unfair to compare different universities with different purposes by using the same criteria.
QS and THE are also businesses.
QS is a student recruitment partner and offers comparative performance analysis and consultancy and online marketing solutions, among others.
In the same way, THE also offers data and insights, consultancy, institutional subscriptions, and branding services.
Still, Philippine schools appear to set great store by these rankings.
The analyses of outside institutions give the universities and its students something to be proud of and could spur them to keep on aiming higher.
UP has promoted news reports about its placement in the 2023 QS rankings.
Ateneo has also put out press statements that touted its placement in the THE and QS rankings.
Ateneo president Fr. Roberto Yap said the THE ranking shows that the university is at par with its foreign peers and is also global while being true to its Filipino, Catholic, and Jesuit identity.
“We’re especially proud of the fact that, despite being a relatively small institution, we are the top Philippine university in the rankings,” Yap said.