By Haidar Harmanani, Professor of Computer Science, Lebanese American University, Lebanon
“Standing still is not an option” says Phil Baty while introducing the 13th edition of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-17. Yet, that is exactly what the majority of universities in the Arab region are doing: standing still!
With the exception of a couple of universities, the Arab region generally performed poorly in this year’s rankings. Although a total of 28 universities made the list, no University in the region made the top 200 elite list.
Saudi Arabia claimed the top two positions and was led by King Abdulaziz University who moved up to 201-500 from the 251-300 position last year, and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals who moved up to 401-500 from the 501-600 position.
Other universities whose performance was disappointing this year include the American University of Beirut, King Saud University, Qatar University, and United Arab Emirates University who did not show improvements in their respective rankings this year, and are still at the 501-600 position.
Part of the decline may be attributed to the expansion of the rankings this year. For the first time, 980 institutions have been included, up from 801 in last year’s list, making it the most competitive ranking to date, according to THE.
The expansion of rankings has also led to doubling the number of ranked institutions, from 14 to 28. At the national level, Egypt led the pack with a total of eight ranked universities, followed by Saudi Arabia (4), Jordan (3), United Arab Emirates (3), and Tunisia (2). Only one university made it from Algeria, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Oman. Perhaps, Lebanon’s performance is the most disappointing with only one University making the list.
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016 lists 980 institutions from 79 countries. The rankings drew on data from 1,313 of the world’s leading research-intensive universities, 20,000 responses to the annual academic reputation surveys, and 56 million citations to 11.9 million publications published over the five years to 2015.
The new rankings enhanced the analysis this time by including books among the research outputs in addition to journal articles, reviews and conference proceedings. Some 528,000 books and book chapters are included for the first time, giving a richer picture of the global research environment.
The data was audited for the first time by PricewaterhouseCoopers.