An excellent Middle Eastern university that had recently attained its 30 year milestone sought to further improve its standing within the international university rankings. Furthermore, it sought to diversify its offerings by establishing new, internationally-recognised degree programmes in Biology. The client university had the particular aim of entering the top 10 within the QS Arab Region University Rankings.
The Oracle’s Solution:
The Oracle advised that it would be most efficient to seek to concomitantly ascend all three of the three most renowned university rankings:
- Times Higher Education Rankings
- Shanghai Rankings (ARWU; Academic Ranking of World Universities)
- QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) World University Rankings.
Eight of the Oracle’s fellows presented to the client institution during an intensive two-day workshop in which the characteristics of the three rankings systems were elaborated in detail. The university subsequently agreed that its resources would be best spent by focusing on improvements to three key elements of quality:
- Teaching Quality
- Research Quality
- Student Recruitment
Over a two-year period, the Oracle’s expert HE practitioners then went about devising and implementing action plans to persistently improve teaching provision. Improved incentives were simultaneously embedded within university procedures to encourage excellent research and commensurate publications of international standard. Successful recruitment of 12 high-profile research experts was also undertaken. Rigorous systems for Foundation programmes and for direct-access admissions to undergraduate programmes were also designed to ensure initial student quality.
Working with international accreditation organisations including the Royal Society of Biology, two degree programmes in the biological sciences were designed and five initial members of academic staff were appointed from a large, global pool of applicants. The curricula were validated internally and by the Ministry of Education and were primed for International Degree Accreditation after three years.
As a result of this initiative, the client was successful in entering the top 10 of the QS Arab Region University Rankings and, happily, it has remained there ever since. Marked and sustained improvements (in excess of 90 positions) were also recorded in the ARWU and THE leagues tables. A virtuous circle of HE quality was thus set in motion.
The degree offerings in biology were oversubscribed in their first year and they continue from strength to strength. They have been incorporated into a department of Bioengineering and student cohorts continue to increase in size.