Tuesday, September 1, 2009

And the winner is…… National Taiwan University!

Overall ratinglist of the 2009 Lodewijk Meijer Institute Ranking of Universities in Developing Countries
In this blog entry we present the Lodewijk Meijer Institute 2009 ranking of top universities in Developing Countries. All 30 variables in our analysis were standardized so as to be able to add them up and directly compare them. So as to ensure that we would not be sensitive to individual outliers (quite a few variables showed a non-standard distribution of outcomes!), we capped the outcomes in such a way that scores above 3 and below -3 are not allowed. These values were capped at +3 and -3 respectively. The maximum possible score for the winner would therefore be +3, i.e. the maximum score on all variables.
After carefully analyzing the 30 variables described yesterday, the winner turned out to be National Taiwan University (NTU) with a great score of 2.343. We added a little 10 minute video in which we present this university to our LMG World TV website
Some of you might argue that one can hardly call Taiwan a developing nation anymore and this is of course true. NTU is by all means a top university in a country that is developing very well. NTU is a modern institution that has delivered one Noble Prize laureate and whose research institutes have made it into absolute world class in several areas, like for instance human genome research and information science. With respect to the latter: Taiwan’s reputation as one of the largest producers of semi-conductors in the world is well-known. But the school is top of the bill in robotics as well.
Although it is good to see that there are also growing numbers of foreign students who discovered the unique qualities of this school – with education thereby becoming an export product for NTU! – it is sad to notice that still way too often developing countries lose their brightest students to developed nations. This brain drain can only be stopped from within, by increasing the availability of top-level education in developing countries. The top-50 schools in our list are by all means good enough for anyone.
If we look further, we see that NTU’s success is not a coincidence: 4 other Taiwanese universities made it into our top-50. But this does not make Taiwan the strongest country in our 2009 ranking. Israel does also post 5 representatives, but where the Taiwanese ones are all ranked between place 26 and 50 (with the exception of NTU) we see the full Israeli quintet end up in the top-25. Jerusalem’s Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University were actually only marginally beaten by NTU! And Israel’s high-tech institute Technion made it also into the top-10. China is also gaining market share. In total, 14 Chinese universities made it into the top-50 and this is perfectly in line with long-term Chinese plans. In August 2008, Professor Nian Cai Liu of the Graduate School of Education of Shanghai Jia Tong University gave a presentation in which the ARWU ranking was explained. As you know, we have incorporated this ranking in our own framework. Page 4 of the powerpoint presentation makes it clear: the ARWU ranking is part of a plan: a plan in which the ultimate goal is to make China a leading nation in education. It even gave a time table for when this goal has to be achieved! Peking University and Tsinghua University are supposed to reach world class by 2016 and 2020 respectively.
And the Chinese are on their way, as the 14 top-50 representatives already indicate. All three of them, Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University itself and Tsinghua University made it into the top-10. The top-10 was completed with one representative each from South Korea (Seoul National University), Brazil (University of Sao Paulo) and South Africa (University of Cape Town). Remarkable: Eastern Europe did not have a top-10 representative. The best school from this region was the famous Lomonosov Moscow State University (see picture below), with the Charles University of Prague (Czech Republic) a good regional second.
Our research enables us to analyze carefully how the educational situation in the various countries is. A lot can be learned, and we will of course share the results with you. Different countries and regions are in totally different circumstances. Obviously, money is always an issue. Countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Brazil, China, Russia and the Czech Republic belong to the richer developing countries. And some would even argue that South Korea and Taiwan hardly belong to this list anymore. But money is not the whole story and we will definitely show you that more can be said than that it is a money issue. Some countries seem to take the educational challenge quite seriously (see the Chinese for instance!) whereas others seem to basically believe that ‘students’ are a nuisance and that it is better not to make them ‘too smart’ so as to ensure a lame opposition. Economic and social research has however indicated that educational development is of the utmost importance to economic growth. In this blog we will therefore not just pay attention to the winners, but also to the losers. But before doing so we will first put the schools of excellence in the spotlight.
In our following blog entries we will analyze how and why results turned out to be what they were. To do so we will present top-20 lists for separate fields of research, namely:
·         Agriculture
·         Medical Science
·         Engineering & Computer Science
·         Life Sciences & Bio-Technology
·         Natural Sciences / Physics
·         Social Sciences
Obviously, we will then also introduce the respective winners in a bit more detail. Similar to what we did today with National Taiwan University. In our next entry we will start with the Agriculture ranking.