Friday, 17 October 2014

DESIRED EDUCATION OUTCOME IGNORED AND SACRIFICED BY UNIVERSITIES RANKINGS

The DESIRED OUTCOMES of Singapore Universities.
Ignored by Global Universties Ranking Standards

Singapore Universities are acknowledged as among the very best in Asia and the world institutions of higher learning and research.

Quite unfortunately, they have been recently ranked among the Top by bogus Global Universities Ranking Standards of Dubious Excellence. These vendors however DID NOT add to our Universities’ credibility, but they instead exploited Singapore’s great reputation for authenticity and honesty to mask their own incredible lack of validity and reliability.

Singapore NUS and NTU were recently ranked at the Top by 2 of the 3 major international World Universities Rankings vendors.  One is THE (Times Higher Education) World University Rankings. The other which placed NTU at the Very Top of the World’s Youngest University is the London-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

Singapore Universities’ association with highly questionable Universities Ranking Agencies DOES NOT enhance or advance the national, regional and international prestige and standing of our Universities.

A great University is committed to organizational excellence at all levels and in all the Departments providing professional support to sustaining excellence in teaching, research and professional service to the Community and Society at large. Through its research and educational programs, as well as various campus activities, a great University must also develop leaders for all sectors of the society and prepare them to address the challenges facing the community and nation.

The Ministry of Education unveiled in 1997 and defined the specific outcome of Singapore Education System for Universities, as follows:  

Outcome of Singapore Education System
All Tertiary (and Post-Secondary) Students should:
Potential Leaders
should:
·   be morally upright, be culturally rooted yet understanding and respecting differences, be responsible to family, community and country
·   believe in our principles of multi-racialism and meritocracy, appreciate the national constraints but see the opportunities
·   be constituents of a gracious society
·   be willing to strive, take pride in work, value working with others
·   be able to think, reason and deal confidently with the future, have courage and conviction in facing adversity
·   be able to seek, process and apply knowledge
·   be innovative - have a spirit of continual improvement, a lifelong habit of learning and an enterprising spirit in undertakings
·   think global, but be rooted to Singapore

·   be committed to improving society
·   be proactive in surmounting our constraints
·   have compassion towards others
·   be able to inspire, motivate and draw out the best from others
·   be able to chart our destiny and lead
·   be able to forge breakthroughs in a knowledge-based economy
·   be creative and imaginative
·   have the tenacity to fight against the odds and not quit
source: Ministry of Education, 1997

According to our Ministry of Education, the Desired Outcomes establish a common purpose for educators, drive our policies and programmes, and allow us to determine how well our education system is doing.

The person who is schooled in the Singapore Education system embodies the Desired Outcomes of Education. He has a good sense of self-awareness, a sound moral compass, and the necessary skills and knowledge to take on challenges of the future. He is responsible to his family, community and nation.

He appreciates the beauty of the world around him, possesses a healthy mind and body, and has a zest for life. In sum, he is:

1) a confident person who has a strong sense of right and wrong, is adaptable and resilient, knows himself, is discerning in judgment, thinks independently and critically, and communicates effectively;
2) a self-directed learner who takes responsibility for his own learning, who questions, reflects and perseveres in the pursuit of learning;
3) an active contributor who is able to work effectively in teams, exercises initiative, takes calculated risks, is innovative and strives for excellence; and,
4) a concerned citizen who is rooted to Singapore, has a strong civic consciousness, is informed, and takes an active role in bettering the lives of others around him.

Our Universities students would be further strengthened in their belief in Singapore, and develop a profound understanding of what matters to Singapore in the global context. Our universities curriculum make explicit what we aspire to develop in our young so as to empower their strong foundations for them to thrive and achieve success in life as active and contributing members of Singapore.

NONE OF THE OUTCOMES of our Education System was addressed by the Global Universities Ranking vendors.  And they were therefore NEVER measured or evaluated among and with the other Universities.

The QS World University Ranking Methodology 2014 involved the Criteria of Academic Reputation (40%), Employer Reputation (10%), Faculty/Student Ratio (20%), Citations per Faculty (20%), International Students Ratio (5%) and International Staff Ratio (5%).

The unanimous agreement by Social Science Researchers in Academia is that none of the QS Criteria (as well as THE’s) actually indicates or measures University Excellence to any extent. No study on their validity and reliability, if any, has ever been produced by QS (or THE) Rankers.  At best, their Criteria are just “popular” notions imagined by the Rankers themselves and have no true bearings on University learning impact on their students.

A Norway government-commissioned study of THE also concluded that even the top rankings are so based on subjective weightings of factors and on dubious data that they are useless as a basis for information if the goal is to improve higher education.

In fact, the United Nations Education agency, UNESCO, has challenged the validity and reliability of University Rankings such as QS and THE Rankings:

“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.”

UNESCO found it “difficult to argue that the benefits offered by the information they provide, given the lack of transparency that we have observed, are greater than the ‘unwanted consequences of rankings’. For there is a danger that time invested by universities in collecting and using data and statistics in order to improve their performance in the rankings may detract from efforts to progress in other areas such as teaching and learning or community involvement”.

Essentially, QS Ranking basically contains serious fundamental conceptual and methodological flaws to render QS Rankings practically useless, irrelevant and immaterial for any serious educational policy purpose. Under scrutiny, the QS Ranking Methodology failed to withstand the penetrative professional scrutiny of the Academics and Research Institutions who now use the spurious Rankings to position themselves in spite of the lack of validity and reliability of their measures.

It is baffling why Singapore Universities would want so desperately to subscribe to dubious Universities ranking standards of dubious excellence.  It is even more disturbing that the ministry of Education would have allow them to expend public funds to woo and court the Global Universities Rankers when it was so blatantly clear that NONE of their Criteria even remotely measure or evaluate our own Outcomes of Education. 

Of what relevance and value therefore did achieving Top Universities Rankings on a bogus ranking standard of dubious excellence add to the Authenticity of our national and international prestige and acclaims?  What does it mean when Administrators and Senior Managers of our key Public institutions hanker and lust after bogus recognition standards? A top ranking on a bogus ranking standard of dubious excellence dilutes the essence of our finest educational institutions, and makes liars of all our numerous achievements hitherto gained in accordance with truly authentic and genuine measurement standards.

Singapore universities should no longer participate in any Global Universities Ranking scams, no matter what other “famous” Universities had been included.  All Marketing collateral making references to the bogus University Rankings should also be cleansed of the lie and returned our Institutions to truly Authentic levels of transparency and integrity.  


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