Five universities in the Philippines made it to the Top 300 Asian universities list of the London-based education and career network Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
The state-run University of the Philippines-Diliman remains the country’s top school after it was ranked 63rd in the 2014 QS University Rankings in Asia.
UP’s latest ranking was higher than last year’s 67th spot. Its best performance was in 2011 when it was ranked 62nd among Asian universities.
It was followed by Ateneo de Manila University at 115th place from last year’s 109th and the University of Santo Tomas, which ranked 141st from last year’s 148th.
De La Salle University remains in the 151-160 grouping. Ateneo de Davao University was included in the 251-300 bracket for the first time.
The University of Southern Philippines, which was included in the 251-300 bracket last year, did not make it to the 2014 list.
“This is a much more encouraging set of results for Filipino institutions, following on from two years in which many of them have seen their ranking drop,” QS head of research Ben Sowter said in a statement.
“The proposed ASEAN Economic Community may help more Philippine institutions gain greater recognition in the coming years through greater inter-regional collaboration and exchange programs,” he said.
Sowter noted the Philippine universities scored relatively weak on the internationalization indicators, which measure the proportion of international students and staff, and participation in exchange programs.
Despite making the top 50 for both academic and employer reputation, UP failed to make it to the top 200 in all four internationalization indicators, Sowter said.
The National University of Singapore topped the ranking for the first time.
In second place is the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, followed by the University of Hong Kong, Seoul National University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong landed in sixth place, followed by Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, China’s Peking University, South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology and the University of Tokyo.
UP has overtaken University of Indonesia (71) in the ranking. Also in the list are Malaysia’s Universiti Malaya (32), Thailand’s Mahindol University (40), Chulalongkorn University of (48), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (56), and Universiti Sains Malaysia (57).
The Top 300 universities were ranked by QS based on academic and employer reputation, faculty and student population and international students and faculty, among others.
UP, Ateneo, De La Salle and UST have shifted their academic calendar to synchronize it with other universities in Southeast Asia.
University officials said changing the school calendar will help facilitate the enrollment abroad of Filipino students and faculty members while attracting foreign students.
At present, the Philippines is the only member of the ASEAN that follows the June-to-March academic calendar. Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand are all following a September-to-May school calendar.
Philippine universities are expected to perform better in global rankings with the decision to shift the academic calendar.
“We expect to go higher as soon as student mobility will increase,” UP vice president for public affairs Prospero de Vera told The STAR yesterday. “We’re getting closer to them. Although many ASEAN schools are aggressively improving on internationalization.”
For his part, UP president Alfredo Pascual said the improvement in the ranking can be attributed to the university’s efforts to increase funds and incentives for research, upgrading of facilities and improving support for PhD and master’s scholarships.
“We need to build facilities for foreign students such as dormitories, well equipped laboratories, IT-enabled classrooms, sports facilities and improve the quality of education through curriculum reform and competent faculty,” he said.
De Vera noted that the QS rankings did not include “public service” as an indicator, saying UP will rank higher as it is one of the thrusts of the university.
“One third of the budget of UP goes to PGH (Philippine General Hospital),” he said. “Its impact is not counted.”