Illustration by Carla T. Gamalinda

 

UST HAS again secured a respectable slot in the Top 200 Asian Universities by London-based consultancy firm Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), but dropped by three places—from 101st to 104th.

Despite its relatively “good” showing in the 2011 listing, it obviously needs more catching up with frontrunner institutions University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo de Manila University, which are at the 62nd and 65th places, respectively, to at least achieve a certain parity with them. (Besides, sliding down the list does not exactly evoke a good image for UST, particularly to freshmen who have decided to entrust their collegiate education—and their future—to the University.)

Although the University has kept its pace ahead of De La Salle University (at 107th), UST remains trailing in the Arts and Humanities (103rd), Engineering and Technology (107th), Social Sciences and Management (136th), and Natural Science (104th), except in its obvious specialty, Life Science and Medicine, where it placed first among the four Philippine schools.

UP is first in Arts and Humanities, Engineering and Technology, and Social Sciences and Management among the “big four,” while Ateneo topped Natural Science.

The question remains, of course: how could UST, which dominates state licensure exams in the disciplines where it supposedly lags behind its fellow private schools and which has consistently produced far more professionals than state schools, be rated so poorly in indicators where its strengths are obvious?

It is said that UP overtook Ateneo because of its high rating in Arts and Humanities. But why should UST trail behind Ateneo (at 29) and La Salle (59) when it not only has programs but schools for the Arts and Humanities, such as the Colleges of Architecture and of Fine Arts and Design, the Faculty of Arts and Letters, and the Conservatory of Music, the biggest music school in the country? All of these schools are considered pre-eminent: UST Architecture has produced three National Artists (Leandro Locsin, I.P. Santos and Francisco Manosa); UST Fine Arts is the cradle of modern art in the Philippines and has produced three National Artists (Victorio Edades, J, Elizalde Navarro, and Ang Kiukok); and Arts and Letters has produced at least three National Artists for Literature (F. Sionil Jose, Bienvenido Lumbera and Rolando Tinio).

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Moreover, UST is the only educational institution declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government.

Meanwhile, the survey showed that UST has significantly improved its research performance in just a year, outscoring the rest of Asia in the Citation per Faculty category, where it garnered a perfect score of 100 from last year’s 98.8 (at eighth place), its highest mark in the annual listing so far. However, it misses to place in the Citations per Paper category where La Salle and UP ranked 121st and 144th, respectively.

The University remained on 59th place in the Employer Review category with UP placing second, Ateneo (47th), and La Salle (73rd). The criterion pertains to the academic reputation of an institution from a professional’s point of view.

But from last year’s dismal 90th place in the heavy-weight Academic Peer Review category, UST dropped to 95th this year—last among the other Philippine schools. This criterion assesses how a university is perceived by the academic community within the region. Results are acquired after the distribution of a questionnaire that asks what institutions fare well in various scholastic areas.

Do these mean that, compared to UP, Ateneo and La Salle, UST is internationally unfit despite it having been a mill of graduates who unfailingly top-notch national licensure examinations? How come UST continues to lag behind them, specifically in Arts and Humanities, when it successfully produced several alumni who later became National Artists, laureates, and respected professionals in various disciplines in the past? Or has the problem always been equated with the University’s “past” and “glorious history”?

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The only Pontifical University in Asia has undoubtedly—and, somehow, remains to be—a historic institution. But it must not dwell on those achievements and become sluggish. If the rankings (given that the indicators are credible and correct) actually show the current global standing of this 400-year-old Catholic University, then things must be ameliorated.

The University must live to the description of Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, during the opening Mass of the International Conference of the Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas (Icusta). According to him UST is a “classic” university. Classic in the sense that it “quality is outstanding and long-lasting” and “whose work and significance is almost timeless.” School officials and students alike need to work hand-in-hand to affirm and reaffirm the Nuncio’s image of UST by word and deed.

Good thing the University is celebrating its Quadricentennial this year, as it will be given more chances to enhance its image and brush up public and global perception of its worth—a way to promote what it has and continues to uphold.

Besides, UST must be conscious of its image of being the oldest Asian institution of higher learning and the “perks” that go with it. UST must brush up its image, locally, regionally and globally.

Perhaps, amid doubts and criticisms on the yearly ranking by the QS, UST should recheck essential indicators such as faculty profile, research output, curriculum standard, facilities, and of course, its achievements in arts and humanities. Rather than constantly hark back on the past, it must look to the futture. There are so much to preserve on campus, but there are a lot more that need to be improved.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Let us not be blinded by the QS survey, it’s not even reliable. Who would believe that Ateneo is ahead of UST in terms of medical arts and sciences? That alone speaks of QS’s unreliability.

    If there’s a listing that PH universities can trust is what CHED has produced.

    Although such ranking could be used as a guide but not really a basis of comparison.

  2. This article will give the UST haters a chance to bash UST more. Especially if those haters will get a chance to read this editorial.

    Like what I’ve said in a related article, no wonder that in the coming days, a lot of Trolls will appear in this article to post their “I hate UST” post.

    Especially in Pinoy Exchange, tsk tsk tsk

  3. I believe QS is still a RELIABLE source of how universities perform in the global arena, its just that all four universities didn’t submit a CORRECT data to QS. We always question QS reliability but we still didn’t submit a correct data. If all four universities will a submit a correct data to QS and still they will be rank that way. Well, thats the time I can say that QS is UNRELIABLE. How can QS rank the four Philippine universities if they’re not given a correct data? Thats the result of the 2011 QS Asian Rankings.

    Please don’t say that if the result of a survey is not favorable to us, its not reliable already.

    Its like a politician who lost in an election and they will automatically say “nadaya daw sila”

  4. why can’t us accept the fact? it’s final and no one can change it.
    besides, if there will be an examination to evaluate the performances of UST and ADMU, I am sure that ADMU will beat UST.

    • That is only just a matter of subjective opinion so do not impose that on others since many people may think otherwise.

      Yes, the Ateneo may seem to have a better performance in the recent decades but which school is greater? The mere fact that the UST logo is imprinted on the 200 peso bill is telling enough of Santo Tomas’ greater significance in our history and culture. Only UP and UST were granted that privilege. Was the Ateneo also granted that privilege when it celebrated its 150th anniversary? No.

  5. I don’t think because of a logo being printed in our circulating money will gauge of being the best in academics.

    On the other hand, UST has already proven so much in academics and its rich history. A comment from an “Anonymous” person will not or can’t ruin the strong image of our university’s academic prominence.

    UST doesn’t need to compare itself to any school in the country because “UST” itself is already a well known brand in the academic scene.

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