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1st International Seminar on T.H.E University Rankings

Over 300 top academics attend 1st Int’l Seminar on T.H.E University Rankings at The UOL
More than 80 universities send Vice Chancellors/Rectors/ QEC Directors /ORIC Directors and senior staff
Federal & Provincial Education Ministers, Chairman PHEC officiated
The impact of global higher education rankings has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. Such rankings provide high-quality benchmarks to universities worldwide and inspire institutions to continue to improve their teaching quality and research contributions, facilitating them to stay current in the global HE landscape. Rankings additionally help universities to identify potential strategic opportunities as well as provide direction to institutional efforts and actions.
The University of Lahore (UOL), through its Quality Enhancement Cell (QEC) hosted the First International Seminar on Times Higher Education (THE) University Rankings in collaboration with THE, Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) and the Ministry of Higher Education, Government of Punjab on October 24, 2019 at the UOL’s Main Campus.  THE is the world’s most influential university ranking with almost five decades of experience as a source of analysis and insight on higher education. It has unparalleled expertise on the trends underpinning university performance globally.
The seminar that focused on the World University Rankings as well as other THE rankings relevant to the region, was attended by around 300 participants including Vice-Chancellors/Rectors from 20 universities, more than 200 representatives of around 80 universities from across the country. The forum provided an opportunity to the universities to gain an understanding of how they can best position themselves to enter and excel in the various THE Rankings. Additionally, participants learnt about the operations of Elsevier’s Research Intelligence solution– SciVal – a tool that allows universities to visualize institutional research performance, benchmark performance against peers, develop collaborative partnerships, analyze research trends and create uniquely tailored reports.
Dignitaries share thoughts on Pakistani education
Mr. Shafqat Mahmood (Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training) was the chief guest while Mr. Raja Yassir Humayun Sarfraz (Provincial Minister of Punjab for Higher Education) and Prof. Fazal Ahmad Khalid (Chairman Punjab Higher Education Commission) were the guests of honor. Zainab Malik (Head of Consultancy, THE), Maryam Riaz Wattoo, (Advisor, Ministry of Education, UAE), Tahseen Khanday (Solution Manager, Elsevier) and Samer Jaffar (Chief Operating Officer, Explorance) were the key Speakers. The senior management team of the UOL that included the Mr. M.A. Raoof (Patron-in-Chief), Mr. Awais Raoof (Chairman, BOG), Mr. Uzair Raoof (Deputy Chairman, BOG), Prof. Dr. Mujahid Kamran (Rector), Pro-Rectors, Directors, Deans, Principals, HODs, faculty and students were all part of this event.
In his remarks, Mr. Awais Raoof showed gratitude for hosting the country’s key higher education stakeholders. He appreciated Ms. Mariam Wattoo and the UOL’s QEC for organizing the event. “It is a great honor for us as the UOL to host such a huge number of Pakistani Universities at a platform where rankings are discussed. It is our pleasure to see it that many universities from Pakistan make it to the THE list of the top best global universities,” he said.
The PHEC Chairman congratulated the UOL for hosting the event. He revealed that out of the 14 Pakistani Universities that made it to THE World University Rankings, many were from Punjab Province. He reiterated the need to balance between providing access to education and improvement of the quality of teaching. He advised universities to collaborate in ensuring international educational standards that will smoothly drive the country into the knowledge economy.
The Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training thanked the UOL’s Patron-in-Chief for putting up a huge infra-structure which is contributing to the nation’s education sector in the two dimensions of access and quality. He said, “University rankings help students to decide where to go for admission. We have more than 200 universities in the country. These, I hope have answered the question of access. What we need to focus on now, is the quality of education”.  He challenged the universities to evaluate the caliber of the faculty they currently have saying these directly reflect on quality of graduate produced. He stressed the need for sending the faculty abroad to acquire the global exposure and impart it locally upon their return.
Provincial Minister for Higher Education appreciated THE for encouraging Pakistani universities to join its ranking protocols. “We cannot fairly judge ourselves, we need an independent body like THE to evaluate our performance,” he said. He advised Vice Chancellors/Rectors to factor university rankings into their priorities. He called for the establishment of more universities beyond Lahore. “There is a high concentration of universities in Lahore but many other districts are still missing access to good quality education,” he observed.
While giving a vote of thanks to the participants and guests, Prof. Dr. Kamran Mujahid (the UOL Rector), called upon universities to strengthen Ph.D. programs adding that they are the main boost to global universities’ rankings. “One of the reasons why Quaid-i-Azam has been perpetually ranked as one the best universities in Pakistan is due to its strong graduate studies. We need to send our faculty abroad to acquire the latest skills. Countries like Japan, Korea, and China sent their students to American universities sometime back and they are now competitive globally,” he added.
Universities receive certificates, experts articulate on rakings
After the speeches, the chief guest and guests of honor distributed certificates among the universities ranked by the THE in its various categories.
During the technical sessions, the guest speaker, Ms. Malik comprehensively discussed on entering and exceling of the institutions in the THE World University Rankings. She encouraged universities to join THE University Impact Ranking by submitting data on the 17 SDGs (sustainable development goals) of the United Nations.
Ms. Wattoo addressed the audience on the National Universities Classification Framework. Using the Chinese and UAE experiences, she advised the Pakistani Government to adopt a system of earmarking a few universities and support them to attain global standards and rankings. “China selected a few universities and funded them with a purpose to attain global ranking and they have achieved it. This is the way to go,” she said.
Ms. Khanday who was unable to attend this seminar physically but shared her presentation via Skype elaborated SciVal, a tool that allows universities to visualize institutional research performance. She explained the Scopus data used by THE in all its rankings. While deliberating on the global research status of Pakistan, she revealed that the country had made tremendous successes in the international collaboration i.e. co-authorship especially in the domains of medicine and engineering.
Mr. Jaffar explained the automation of feedback gathering processes and analyzing the voices of the students through text analytics. Interactive question-answer session was also held after every speaker.
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