Taiwanese Universities Should Ignore Academic Rankings: Hsieh Yu-cheng

Taiwanese Universities Should Ignore Academic Rankings: Hsieh Yu-cheng
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What you need to know

A Taiwanese columnist says that a university that puts academic competition as its primary focus is 'suicidal.'

This year’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) was recently released by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, with National Taiwan University (NTU) dropping from 154th last year to 163rd this year, marking the fourth consecutive year NTU has declined in the ranking.

While some commentators have expressed concerns over the “underperformance” of Taiwan’s top university, an op-ed in Business Weekly argues that the university should not be overly worried about such rankings.

Hsieh Yu-cheng (謝宇程), a well-known columnist on educational issues in Taiwan, says people normally have three main expectations about universities: acting as an engine that pushes society, industries, and government toward progress; cultivating talent; and a "race horse" in academic competitions.

The problem, Hsieh says, is that “it is hard for universities to meet those expectations all at once.”

“The goals must be prioritized,” Hsieh says, adding that in terms of practicality, a university that puts academic competition as its primary focus would be “suicidal.”

Hsieh says “NTU should ‘completely ignore’ the academic ranking because it won’t have any negative influence on our country, society, industries, or younger generation.”

It would be a waste if universities started pouring resources, either human or financial, into pursuing “unrealistic” academic achievements instead of focusing on providing high-quality education for students, he argues.

“A university worth respecting should be fully aware of the societal, political, and cultural issues” and “put in full efforts to cultivate students into talents that pave the way for the government, businesses and the cultural industry,” he writes.

Hsieh says people should not praise or question NTU based on its ranking. Instead, NTU should show determination to become a university worth respecting and stop chasing after academic rankings.

“The way NTU can be responsible for Taiwan is through the accomplishments of its students and alumni, and the progress of the society and industries,” Hsieh writes. “Using grades to torture elementary school students is so behind the times now, and we’re still looking to use academic rankings to torment universities? Haven’t we had enough already?”

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole