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Topic & Description Published
First-ever university rankings published

Category : TEXT / General News
1 Sep 2006

< FULL TEXT >

Credibility doubts as Thammasat opts out

SIRIKUL BUNNAG

The Higher Education Commission yesterday published the first-ever rankings of the top 49 Thai universities, amid questions over the credibility of the initiative after the withdrawal of Thammasat and opposition by some institutions. The long-awaiting rankings were based on assessments of 49 out of 138 public and private universities across the country.

The main aim is to use them for universities to improve their performances and budget allocations.

The information can be used by high school students in making decisions when they apply to study for undergraduate degrees.

There was controversy, however, after Thammasat University decided not to join the initiative.

The university had not accepted the ranking results and the Higher Education Commission had to take responsibility for any problems which might result, rector Surapol Nitikraipoj said.The research and teaching ranking indicators were not credible and were inadequate, he added.

The ranking of universities should be entrusted to the Office of Academic Accreditation and Educational Evaluation, Mr Surapol said.

But Pavich Tongroach, secretary-general of the Higher Education Commission, ignored the criticism and said he would not give up the effort.

He vowed to continue evaluations of all universities in the future and improve the rankings.

''It's okay if someone does or doesn't recognise these rankings. They are subject to debate for academics,'' he said, and insisted the assessment was based on information supplied by universities.

Mr Pavich said even the rankings made by overseas agencies were not accepted by universities in Thailand.

Some companies in Thailand had even rated universities as a basis for recruitment of new employees, he said.

What concerned the commission more than criticism from universities was that private firms might not get the right information to judge universities, he added.

The rankings are categorised into research and teaching, and 60 universities and colleges gave information to the commission for assessment.

But the HEC counted only 49 participating institutions which had sufficient data for calculating their performances.

Each area has five levels on a scale from outstanding to excellent, good, fairly good and needing improvement.

Chulalongkorn, Chiang Mai University and Mahidol are the only three universities in the top group for their teaching and research performances.

Rajabhat and small private universities fall largely into the ''needing improvement'' category.

The criteria in the teaching category included the numbers of students and lecturers, the qualifications of lecturers, university budgets, the number of foreign lecturers and alumnis' international awards.

In the research category, the criteria focused on the amount of research funds, the number of researchers, the number of research textbooks published in foreign languages and the number of doctorate students and doctorate graduates.

Universities have also been graded according to disciplines taught.

In science, Mahidol University's science faculty ranks first. Chulalongkorn University comes top in technology, while Ramathibodi Hospital's faculty of medical sciences ranks first in biomedical science.

In humanities and liberal arts, Silpakorn University's faculty of decorative arts tops the list.

Ranking first in social science is the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University. Kasetsart University's faculty of agriculture is placed top of the agricultural category, while its faculty of education was judged outstanding in its field


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