Dubai, UAE: Three UAE universities have made it into the first Times Higher Education rankings for the Mena region.
In the list of the top 30 institutions, UAE University was ranked in 11th place, American University of Sharjah at 17th and Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi at 20th.
The full global rankings will be released next year.
“This pilot ranking is highly significant as it gives us an opportunity to start a serious, in-depth conversation about what range of performance indicators are needed to properly assess universities in the Mena region,” said Phil Baty, editor of the THE World University Rankings.
“This top 30 is based on just a single indicator – research effect. It gives us a snapshot of the quality of research taking place in the region, and which universities are making the highest global effect in research. But of course while research is a key activity for a university, and they play a vital role in creating new knowledge and developing new technologies through research, it is not the only mission. Teaching is crucial, and of course, as is the third mission of working with industry.”
The THE World University Rankings, which has been published annually for more than a decade, uses 13 separate performance indicators to judge institutions across the full range of activities – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.
Mr Baty said he would like to extend this formula to the Mena region, making it locally specific.
Eleven countries are featured in the Mena top 30 list, which Mr Baty says shows that no single country is dominant in the field of research.
“This is great news as it suggests there is big potential for several countries to play a much bigger role on the world stage in terms of research excellence,” he said.
For the UAE, he says having three spots in the list is significant and shows research is an area in which the Emirates is developing quickly.
“As there has been a limited research infrastructure in the UAE, a very sensible decision has been made to import leading international institutions and leading global scholars to help build the foundations and create a strong research base,” said Mr Baty. “This is an aspect which I expect to see improving in the coming years due to the levels of investment and the commitment to development.”
Prof Mohamed Albaili, provost of UAEU, said the presence of three institutions in the rankings “puts the country on the international map”. He also said he hoped it would attract more high calibre students to the institution.
“I think we will receive better students and more of them, due to our advanced ranking. The better our ranking, the better the job market will receive our graduates too.”
Prof Rory Hume, provost at UAEU until two years ago and fellow of the Centre for Studies of Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley, said the rankings were a positive sign for the UAE.
“Given the population of the UAE, it means the UAE is doing well in the region, which is a positive,” said Prof Hume, who until December was based at the Qatar Foundation.
“The fact three institutions are ranked will encourage other universities and colleges in the Emirates to continue to strive and increase their quality and become ranked.”
He said the universities that made the rankings did so as a result of consistent goals in the area of research. “There has been a consistent vision of what they should become over time,” he said.
Prof Kevin Mitchell, interim provost at AUS, said the results from such a respected ranking were good for the country: “Three UAE institutions in the top 30 indicates the country’s commitment to higher education and the success achieved in a relatively short time period.
“ AUS is very proud to be included among the top 30 universities in the region and to be one of only three institutions in the UAE to appear in the rankings. Inclusion in the rankings reflects the extraordinary commitment of a dedicated faculty and staff and recognises the quality of AUS students and alumni.”
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