Wednesday, 8 October 2014

DARK SIDES of A Global Universities Ranker

The DARK SIDES of QS World Universities Ranker

Looking for an University? Beware The Ranker.

Singapore Universities have recently been ranked at the Top by what most Academics and the United Nations Education agency, UNESCO, generally considered to be Bogus Ranking Standards of Dubious Excellence. 

Singapore University NTU has secured top placing as the world's best young university, according to Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World Universities Ranking, one of three major international university ranking systems.  The London-based QS World Universities Ranking has been called “a Fraud on the public.” Another Eminent Professor said: “QS simply doesn’t do as good a job as the other rankers that are using multiple indicators”. 

Eminent Professor Simon Marginson of then Melbourne University remarked that: “I do think social science-wise it’s so weak that you can’t take the results seriously”.  This in turn was followed by a heated exchange between Ben Sowter of QS and Professor Simon Marginson.

Professor Simon Marginson is currently Professor of International Higher Education, University of London, UK, and an Honorary Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE). Professor Simon Marginson is Joint Editor-in-Chief of Higher Education, the principal world scholarly journal in higher education studies. He specializes in higher education, and comparative and international education, being one of the world’s most highly cited social science researchers in these fields.

A Reporter also claimed that QS has used the threat of legal action to try to silence critics. “QS has twice threatened publications with legal action when publishing my bona fide criticisms of QS. One was The Australian: in that case QS prevented my criticisms from being aired. The other case was University World News, which refused to pull my remarks from its website when threatened by QS with legal action”.

QS launched the annual World University Rankings in 2004 with the then Times Higher Education Supplement (THES), a Newspaper in Rupert Murdoch Group.  In 2005, QS parted company with THES, now renamed just THE, without warning. Both QS and THE are now competing with each other to produce a new world ranking with the THE in collaboration with media group Thomson Reuters.

The QS World Universities Ranking, like other Universities Rankings, is in essence deficient in terms of social science, but QS has been criticized for more than just its unsound, questionable and unscientific Methodology:

1)     THES DID drop QS for Methodological Reasons.  QS’ use of peer and industry surveys is highly questionable with very low response rate returns from huge number of unspecified respondents of unknown expertise.  The best explanation by QS’s former partner is here:

2)     The Most Stinging Criticism is the Sale of Dubious QS-Star Ratings. One wonders which self-respecting University would “buy” QS-Stars and actually use them for Marketing.  Singapore NTU (39) and MIT (1) both have 5+QS-Stars. As did the Universities of Waterloo (169), Monash (70) and Queensland (43). However, the Universities of of Cambridge (2), Harvard (3), Stanford University (4), Caltech (5) [California Institute of Technology], Princeton University (6) and Yale University (7) have only 5 QS-Stars.  Brackets contain QS 2014 Rankings.  Note the UNRELIBILITY of QS Rankings vs QS-Stars, and therefore their absurd claims to VALIDITY and Credibility. See:

3)     And the Highly Lucrative "Consultancy" to help Universities Rise Up the QS Rankings.  Need to say more regarding QS’ commercial rather than Academic or Quality motivation? See:

4)     QS offers "Opportunities" for Branding from just $80,000 with QS Showcase. Another QS’ innovative commercial “Value” Service if Academic Reputation of Excellence is not enough to attract students:

5)     QS Reputation Survey has Weak Protocols, as demonstrated by this case of blatant manipulation. An Irish University President has, AGAINST QS’ Expressed Rules, asked all faculty members and other academic employees at his institution to each recruit three people from other universities to register to vote in the survey of university reputations.  QS allows Universities to encouraging people to sign up for the QS peer review survey, as long as they don't suggest favoring any one institution. Now, how does this actually work, seriously?  See:

6)     Finally, QS's business practices (fined GBP 80,000 or US$ 128,648 for using unlicensed software) leave an awful lot to be desired. Maybe, it’s just bad planning, inadequate IT policies or simply a lack of awareness.  Clearly, an Integrity issue for any Company desiring its Products to be viewed with Respect and Credibility.  See:

The United Nations Education agency, UNESCO, has challenged the validity and reliability of University Rankings, such as QS World Universities Ranking:
“Global university rankings fail to capture either the meaning or driverse qualities of a university or the characteristics of universities in a way that values and respects their educational and social purposes, missions and goals. At present, these rankings are of dubious value, are underpinned by questionable social science, arbitrarily privilege particular indicators, and use shallow proxies as correlates of quality.”

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