Ranking Philippine universities

A recent global university ranking system put four Philippine universities, including De La Salle University, in the spotlight. As a product of three of these four universities, I feel a sense of pride knowing that these universities have acquired global distinction based on this particular ranking system.

How useful are these rankings?

However, the question is how useful are these rankings for Filipinos? Let’s take a look at the indicators used (based on news reports on the QS World University Rankings): academic reputation (40 percent), employer reputation (10 percent), faculty student ratio (20 percent), citations per faculty (20 percent), international students (5 percent), and international faculty (5 percent).

Now remember that this is a world university ranking system, so the operative idea here is “global.” Thus, when it talks about reputation as an indicator, the sense is global reputation, i.e. global academic reputation and global employer reputation, which account for 50 percent of the weights. Add in the weight for international students and international faculty at 5 percent each, that’s a whopping 60 percent of the weights for international positioning. Now, how useful is that for local students and local employers? My sense is that these indicators do not address the needs of Filipino students and employers per se but are geared for something else.

Mandates vs. rankings

Let’s take a look at the local schools and universities and their mandates versus this global ranking system. So how are these local universities supposed to compete to gain good global academic reputations? Or for that matter, get good global recognition among employers? Well, they must be international in the first place, marketing their university globally, aggressively pursuing international students and faculty, and pushing for recognition among global employers. Does that make sense to these universities in the first place when they are here with a particular set of mandates in mind.

Where does the Lasallian mission fit into these global indicators? It’s not there because that’s not important to global rankings although it’s important to Lasallian schools.  Or how about giving Christian formation and humanistic education to Filipino students, which would be the mission of Catholic schools and universities locally? Well, there are no points for that as well for the global rankings although that’s important for Philippine society.

Local requirements rather than global promotion

Ok, lets talk about employer reputation: for the average local companies, what would be the schools they are willing to look at? Isn’t that more important? As far as I know, there are other local schools and universities aside from the top 4 in the global rankings that are cranking out graduates who are as qualified for the local jobs. In fact, the BPO companies are getting good value for money, hiring graduates aside from the said top 4 universities as well, so clearly there’s something going on locally that’s being missed out on if one only concentrates on global rankings per se.

On the whole, graduates of these local schools and universities outside of the global 4 may be getting world-class education but are not getting the recognition that they deserve simply because their institutions have focused on local requirements rather than global promotion. These graduates should walk around proud of their accomplishments and that of their academic institution and should pay no mind to the global ranking.

A Philippine ranking system

I think it’s high time that a Philippine ranking using useful local indicators be set-up to guide  Filipino students as to what local universities/schools to get into. Such a ranking system can also give local employers a benchmark for hiring and would serve as a feedback mechanism for schools and universities participating in the benchmarking exercise. Otherwise, the existing global ranking system doesn’t serve anybody, except maybe the Filipino elite who are thinking about studying in foreign universities.

Maybe that’s just it, isn’t it? Perhaps this global ranking is a sort of global marketing and recruitment gimmick of internationally-minded universities? Well, that might have some importance, I must admit, but in terms of the needs of Filipino students, employers, and schools, I don’t think that’s of primary importance locally. It might be time to roll out a local ranking system then, to suit very pressing local needs.


Marc Bautista, CFA is AVP/Head of Research at Metrobank and teaches some of the core courses under the MS Computational Finance Program of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. He can be reached at [email protected]


The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University, its faculty, and its administrators.

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