Ranking Asean Methodology

For a detailed, technically-oriented methodology document, please click here. The text below is intended for a general audience.

The AppliedHE Private University Ranking: ASEAN was created with the goal of measuring the things about private universities that students deciding on their higher education journey find most important. Private universities are almost always more expensive than their public-sector counterparts, and therefore they represent an important investment in time and money by students and their families. Especially in Southeast Asia, private universities have played an important role in educating the workforce and expanding access to higher education. But how do you, as a student, choose the right university, and what do the rankings and indicators presented here really measure? We attempt to describe our ranking methodology in simple terms.

Measuring what is important

The ranking measures what is important to students: the quality of teaching and learning, and whether you can get a job (employability). We also measure research, because research often raises the quality of teaching, and institutions’ community outreach and internationalization, which enhance the overall learning experience. Finally, we look at an institution’s brand value: whether it is respected by other universities, so that the degree or diploma you graduate with, carries some weight.

Teaching and Learning (40%)

The heaviest weightage in the ranking is assigned to the quality of teaching and learning, which is evaluated based on student surveys. We ask students what they think of their classes, the curriculum, exams, instructors, the campus, facilities, the social life, etc. Everything you would probably ask if you met a student from that institution. To ensure that our surveys are representative, we aim to survey at least 10% of the entire student body. In some cases universities had less than a 10% response rate, and so they were penalized because we cannot be sure how representative their responses are.

Employability (15%)

Like most students, you probably want a job when you graduate, so we looked at the graduate employment rate. The graduate employment rate is measured through a survey of recent graduates (sometimes called “alumni tracer study”), which in many ASEAN countries, universities also have to submit to the government. We looked at both the number of graduates that reported getting a job as a share of total survey respondents, and as a share of the total number of graduates, this to avoid the potential bias of only employed graduates being included in the surveys.

Research (15%)

Research can raise the quality of teaching because it suggests that the people who teach you are at the cutting edge of their field. To measure research we use the world’s biggest database of scientific documents: Google Scholar. Google Scholar also indexes many local scientific journals in local languages, which do not always publish “new to the world”-research, but which are valued by local academics, industry and communities. We look at research published during the past five years and count the number of Google Scholar profiles per faculty member with at least one research paper (5%), the number of papers per faculty member (5%), and the number of citations per paper (5%). The aim is to measure if many faculty members are involved in impactful (and frequently cited) research.

Community Engagement (10%)

A university should not be an “ivory tower”, it should be connected to, and involved in, the local community. That community connection ultimately benefits students, as their learning is more relevant and diverse. To measure community engagement we ask students about their involvement in social or environmental activities (through the aforementioned surveys), the number of students receiving some kind of scholarship, grant or other aid, and the media coverage the institution has received, based on Google News. Media coverage is a good indicator of the institution’s involvement in local issues, or whether its faculty are deemed knowledgable and invited to comment on current events.

Internationalization (10%)

The world is increasingly globalized, and universities are no exception. Having an opportunity to study with people from different parts of the world broadens your outlook, your social network, and probably also your palate! We measure the number of international students and faculty on campus, whether as exchange students or degree-seeking students, and we include those attending virtually from abroad.

Institutional Reputation (10%)

This is essentially the “brand value” of an institution in the eyes of its peers. Everyone wants to go to a respected, reputable university, but how do you know which ones are well known? You will probably just ask around, and that is exactly what we have done for you. We have asked universities participating in the ranking to nominate up to 10 institutions whom they hold in high esteem.

Some further questions you may have

After reading through the methodology, it is possible that you have some further questions. We have tried to address some of them below:

Why is university X not in the ranking?

The ranking is a voluntary one, whereby we ask universities to submit data to us and run our surveys, so that we can rank them. If you identify a private university from Southeast Asia that is not ranked, it is likely because they declined to submit data, or they found out about our ranking too late (in which case they can join the next edition of the ranking). There are also a number of overseas branch campuses in Southeast Asia, offering degrees from countries such as Australia, China and the United Kingdom. These universities are not included because they award a foreign degree, and not a local degree. Public universities are also excluded, as this is a private university ranking.

Why are Brunei, Laos, Myanmar and Singapore excluded from the ranking?

As far as we are aware, there are no private universities in Brunei, Laos and Singapore which award a local degree. There are such universities in Myanmar, but these universities have declined to participate in the ranking at this time.

Why do you rank only private universities?

Private universities are different from public universities in the sense that they receive little or no government funding, and that they are often more focused on teaching and employment. Students pay their tuition fees in the expectation of landing a good job and receiving a good education. Public universities often have a broader social mission and more government funding, which means that they might be in a position to do more research, or offer courses that are less commercially marketable. Because of these large differences, it is not always fair to compare private and public universities on the same basis. Because of the focus on research in many international university rankings, private universities with smaller research budgets often rank quite low.

Why is the rank of university X in the AppliedHE ranking different from other rankings?

Different rankings have different methodologies. AppliedHE focuses on teaching and learning, employability and research in a broad sense, while other rankings measure other things (including the number of dead Nobel prize winners, in one case!). All rankings have their strengths and weaknesses, so we encourage you to compare them. A more research-focused ranking, for example, may be more relevant for students who are planning a career in research or academia.