By Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf for The National
The newly established Khalifa University of Science and Technology has attained the highest ranking for a UAE university in the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, placing in the 301-350 bracket of the ranking, which covered 1,102 universities across 77 countries. It also achieved the highest university ranking in the UAE in the subject of engineering and technology, placing among the top 250 out of 500 universities surveyed worldwide by THE.
What makes this high ranking more exceptional is the fact that the Khalifa University of Science and Technology was established in February 2017 through the merger of The Petroleum Institute, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research just seven months ago. This unprecedented high ranking for a UAE university, and that too within just months of its formal creation, is a testament to the UAE’s visionary leadership, which recognised that these three great universities would be able to do even more as one.
Indeed, this achievement could not have been realised so quickly by any one of our constituent universities. By consolidating the component institutes’ research and academic strengths, the Khalifa University of Science and Technology now boasts a broad mix of academic disciplines across undergraduate and post-graduate levels, with 13 bachelor’s, 22 master’s and seven doctorate programmes.
Research at the merged university also now encompasses a wider range of topics of relevance to Abu Dhabi’s targeted knowledge economy transformation, from petroleum engineering and sustainable technologies, to space systems and robotics. This breadth and depth of research and academics is what allowed us to achieve such heights in the THE ranking, which judges research-intensive universities with undergraduate and graduate programmes, across all of their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.
Our university ranked high in several of the performance indicators judged by THE World University Rankings. In the category of citations, which refers to the number of times a university’s published work is cited by scholars globally, we received a score of 71.4. In Industry Income, which seeks to capture a university’s ability to attract funding in the commercial marketplace, we received a score of 84.5. Our highest score however was in the International Outlook category, where we scored a 97.9. This category looks at the diversity of a university’s student and faculty body, as well as the diversity of the authors on published research papers.
This ranking validates the preceding efforts of Masdar Institute, the Petroleum Institute and the Khalifa University to advance the UAE’s innovation ecosystem and establish Abu Dhabi as a hub for innovation and technology transfer through the cultivation of a research-driven university. Prior to the merger, the latter had made it into the World University Rankings 501-600 bracket in 2017, and was also the youngest university ranked in the list of top 100 universities under 50 years of age. In 2016, Masdar Institute was ranked as the UAE’s top academic institution in the Nature Index rankings and the top engineering university in the UAE by US News and World Report, while in 2015, the Petroleum Institute achieved 20th position in THE’s first-ever ranking of the Middle East and North Africa region’s top 30 universities.
The ranking also strengthens and supports the rationale behind the Abu Dhabi leadership’s ongoing consolidation efforts in the public sector, which have included mergers in banking and investment. Mergers in complementary entities are aimed at producing a single entity that benefits from greater leverage, resources and market position. By bringing these three institutions under one banner, the Abu Dhabi leadership has strengthened the country’s position as a global research and education hub and produced the highest performing science and engineering university the country has ever known.
Going forward, I urge our faculty, students and staff to continue to do the high-quality work that helped Khalifa University of Science and Technology achieve its high THE ranking. By focusing on the goal, transforming the UAE to a competitive and innovative knowledge economy, we will continue to pursue the impactful research, collaboration, and publications that result in rankings. With an even sharper focus on our research and academic output, external recognition will naturally follow.
Dr Behjat Al Yousuf is interim Provost of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, part of the Khalifa University of Science and Technology