On university rankings

By Joshua Corcuera

Recently, news about the world university rankings, especially Philippine schools making it to the list, was widely talked about in social media these past few days.

The 2024 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings were released last Wednesday, June 28. Though only a mere five universities from the country made it to the rankings, this is an increase from the usual Big Four. The University of San Carlos in Cebu managed to debut in the rankings placing in the rank 1201-1400.

Meanwhile, the Big Four continues to dominate in the rankings with the University of the Philippines at top once more ranking 404th in the world, which is an improvement of 8 spots as compared to their 2023 performance in the same list.

The Ateneo de Manila University remains the second best higher educational institution in the country and the top private university in the Philippines ranking 563rd, a huge leap from the 651-700 band last year.

The De La Salle University and the University of Santo Tomas also marked significant gains as they ranked 681-690 and 801-850, respectively, as compared to 801-1000 last year for both Manila-based institutions.

Just last week, another well-known university ranking, the Times Higher Education, released the top universities in Asia for 2023. In this ranking, the Ateneo ranked 84th and is the only Philippine school to make it to Asia’s top 100. UP ranked in the 201-250 bracket, followed by the DLSU at 501-600, and Mapua completing the list at 601+.

From this, we can notice a pattern, three schools are undoubtedly renowned for their excellence, UP, ADMU, and DLSU. Though UST is also part of the Big Four, its exclusion in the THE Asia Rankings, more so the fact that Mapua managed to surmount them, implies that the Sampaloc-based institution has more work to do to solidify its academic stature. Still, there is no doubt that UST is a prestigious university with a rich and vibrant history.

There is another pattern that can be inferred from the data, one that is much more unfortunate. Prominent educational institutions in the Philippines are merely centered in Metro Manila, specifically in Manila and Quezon City. The mere fact that there is only one university outside the National Capital Region is a reflection of the Imperial Manila phenomenon, and the unbalanced dominance of the region over far-flung provinces.

This is unfortunate because ambitious students in the provinces and in rural areas still have to flock to Manila just to reach their dreams and earn a diploma from a prestigious university. It is imperative that education in the Philippines become much more inclusive and accessible, especially to those in Visayas and Mindanao.

Despite the rankings, there is hope for those outside Metro Manila. The debut of the University of San Carlos in the 2024 QS World University Rankings shows that schools outside NCR are capable of matching their excellence. More importantly, quality education becomes accessible not only to those in Luzon, but also to those in Visayas and Mindanao.

Hopefully, heavy investments on improving tertiary education in the country’s south, as well as neglected provinces in Luzon, will become a top government priority in the years to come. In doing so, more and more youth would be given the fair opportunity to achieve their dreams and pay back to society.