University admission is one of the most difficult choices that every student will face in their lives
There are now altogether 101 private universities in Bangladesh. Many of them are very new, but some have been around for over two decades. The University Grants Commission, the government’s regulatory body of universities, works to ensure that all the institutions meet certain basic standards and follow a standard set of rules. Its duties, however, do not extend to appraising the universities for quality and performance.
Dhaka Tribune and Bangla Tribune jointly launched their private university rankings in 2017 in association with Org-Quest Research Limited, in response to a need for such assessment. Before this, there had been no standardized empirical assessment of the private universities of Bangladesh, based on which one could draw conclusions about their quality. While some universities have built their reputations over the years, for an objective appraisal there was no alternative to a standardized measure.
Our attempt to create a system of assessment for private universities has been further revised and updated this year. It should be noted here that only 36 of the private universities made it into the ranking. Of those excluded, a few had UGC accreditation issues, but most could not be included because they were too young or specialized in only one or two subjects. As such, they were not comparable in the same framework as universities that had numerous departments and a much larger pool of graduates accumulated over the years. Details are in the scope section.
The ranking assesses universities from two directions.
First, the facts and figures of the universities which are already measured by the University Grants Commission needed to be summarized into a single figure. In some cases, it was found that numbers reported to the UGC did not reflect the actual situation and those numbers had to be verified and changed. After thorough fact-checking, the data was moulded into a single score. This is the Factual Score.
And then, same as the inaugural rankings in 2017, two groups of stakeholders were asked to assess the graduates of these universities—the first being academics and the second, employers of high-skilled workers. A fairly representative number of employers and academics were asked how they perceived the graduates of each of the universities on the list, via a point system that let them assign scores on various criteria. All these scores were summarized into the Perceptual Score.
How this ranking might be useful
University admission is one of the most difficult choices that every student will face in their lives.
The challenge is that there is a barrage of information that students must sift through to make their choice and this may be overwhelming amid the frenzy and the limited time of the admission season. There is also a lot of information that is not readily available to students, but ought to figure prominently in the decision-making process, such as the number of PhD holding teachers on staff or how much campus area per student a university has. All of this is reflected in the Factual Score data.
Then there are questions which had never been explored before but can be crucial for a student who is embarking on a journey that might define his or her entire career. How do potential employers perceive or evaluate graduates of a particular institution? What do seasoned academics have to say about the academic and working environment at the universities in question? The Perceptual Score is an indicative answer to those questions.
The Dhaka Tribune-Bangla Tribune Private University Rankings merges both these scores together into a final score which provides the basis of the overall score. The universities are ranked according to this score.
One of the things that the score demonstrates is that popular perceptions may not always match the empirical evidence. Also, putting the individual university scores next to each other provides a unique insight into the achievements as well as shortcomings that any of them may have.
Based on the overall scores obtained, North South University (NSU) topped the list this year, followed very closely by Brac University. East West University (EWU) stood third, closely followed by Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) and AUST.
As can be seen from the changes in ranking occurred, NSU has overtaken Brac University to occupy the 1st place, while EWU has jumped four notches to take the third place. Among others in the top 10 category, DIU and UIU went up by 3 and 1 place respectively.
In the Next 10 category (11-20), the International Islamic University Chittagong made its way to 11th position despite being included in the ranking for the first time.
Brac, which was the top university last year, narrowly topped the Factual Score again. However, NSU was again highest in the Perceptual Score, and its aggregate score was sufficient to place it first overall this year.
While the costs of studying in these universities have not been factored into the ranking, it will nevertheless be helpful for a student in selecting the best option for them. The hope is that this ranking will help a student pick the best university within his or her range of affordability. If a student cannot afford the top scorer university, he or she may pick the best among the universities that can be deemed affordable for them or their families.
A cursory comparison of tuition fees at the top 20 universities has been included here to help students get a perspective on these issues.