Here’s Why Pakistani Universities Are Not Featured in the Top Rankings Worldwide

By Dr. Imran Ali

Whenever QS or TIMES issue world rankings for universities, a hue and cry is initiated in media about why our universities are seemingly unable to break into the top universities of the world.

It’s not unwarranted though because the simple fact of the matter is that our universities do not break the top 500 in the world rankings and not even the top 100 of Asian rankings by QS and TIMES, which are the most reputed ranking bodies in the world.

In QS rankings, the first Pakistani flag is visible after you scroll down about 700 places till you find LUMS, which is also 111th in Asia according to QS rankings. Similarly, according to TIMES, the 1st Pakistani university to appear in World ranking is Quaid e Azam University having 601+ rank and it ranks 101+ in Asia.

One of the main reasons is the emphasis of HEC and universities in Pakistan of quantity over quality. The universities force faculty to publish as much research articles as they can even if they are published in junk journals.

In a recent example, the University of Balochistan made it compulsory for MPhil students to publish their work in impact factor or HEC recognized journals. This forces students and faculty to waste their data in local HEC journals, as the international reputed impact factor journals sometimes takes over a year to publish research by peer review process.

HEC. for some unknown reasons. is still recognizing journals in Pakistan which do not even fulfill the necessary criteria of being recognized as a research journal. Many Pakistani journals even do not publish their volumes on internet or at least take years to upload them, a step that cripples the research being cited in other studies.

Focus on Quantity of Citations is Killing Research in Pakistan

QS and TIMES clearly focus on citations and they count for 20% and 30% respectively in university rankings. QS obtains the citations data from a reputed indexing agency SCOPUS, amongst which a negligible amount of Pakistani HEC recognized journals are indexed.

Similarly, the TIMES reserves 2.5% of the total score for transfer of knowledge to industry but the way research is done in Pakistan makes it impossible for researchers to strive for real innovation. Anything that’s patent worthy takes time, which they simply do not get.

Pakistan is currently ranked 46 in the World by Scimago in terms of citations. Our near neighbors like India and Iran ranks 9 and 22, respectively. The decline of Pakistani universities rankings is inevitable if we do not prioritize quality over quantity.

HEC must follow the QS and TIMES ranking criteria and must only encourage citable research articles.

The author is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Biochemistry, University of Balochistan.


  • Jawad

    Dr sahib my opinion is contrary to yours. We are not promoting our universities according to the criterion of these ranking systems. We only make hue and cry but do not scientifically analyze and do the corrective actions. The standard of our education system is not bad at all. Our students going abroad do wonders as compared to the students of other contemporary countries.

    • Patriot

      I agree with Jawad, and completely disagree with this article. I have been working across Europe and Americas as well as Middle East and Asia now for over 20 years, and have competed with people directly from Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, IIM (India), Insead (France) and in almost all independent assessments done (competency and psychological assessments/testing by independent western consultants) I have beaten every single one of them, and have been rated in the top 0.8% of global executives at VP level or above, as well as the single top talent in my company (I have worked for three # 1 companies in the world).
      And my start was from the humble IBA in Karachi (its only later I went on to learning and career opportunities abroad, across the world).
      Its just propaganda and hype created by the west and India to try and discredit Pakistani talent.
      Infact on the contrary whenever it comes time to deliver results, even Indian managers prefer to have Pakistanis — I have seen practically, repeatedly in my two decades experience, one Pakistani being then replaced for that same job by upto four Indians, and still unable to deliver the objectives and KPIs set which that one Pakistani alone was achieving — so I vehemently refute your allegation of quality of quantity — in fact one th contrary this is the EXACT problem with India, not Pakistan.
      Our problem is that our best are better than anyone in the world, but our average is pretty poor.

      • Jawad

        Jazakallah sir and thanks for the support. I love your Nick also. It’s pleasure to know that there are other like minded Pakistanis. I commented on another similar article earlier that HEC and some good institutions like NUST and LUMS should scientifically and systematically attack and resolve the problem of university rankings. But all said, if every one of us starts believing in himself, we can win as a nation.

        • Patriot

          Thank you for your kind thoughts Jawad.
          But until we get rid of this dilapidated system of government nothing will happen. Pakistan has the potential to leave the rest of the world behind in dust if only we had sincere, honest leadership with integrity and moral courage.
          Allah has blessed us with not just the best natural, human and processed resources in the world, but has given us the foresight to be able to use it as well.
          We are just let down by Mir Jaffars every time.
          If only these “big” ruling families realized that even in USA, Jeddah or Dubai their sons and future families will remain “second class citizens”, they would stop betraying Pakistan and actually make this nation what it has the potential to become.
          You only realize this when you live far away from your home, my friend!
          I want to see the day when it is MANDATORY for all politicians, bureaucrats and other civil and military leaders to send their children to pubic “yellow” schools, and get treatment in local hospitals.
          I can GUARANTEE you we will quickly have the best healthcare and education system in the entire world!

          • Aamir Afzal

            Well I just came across your comments and found them very profound. You are right on the money with whatever you’ve mentioned here. Yes Pakistan needs it’s own educational system and we should stop importing education from abroad at our school level. Look at Finland they never had the best educational system but they realized, changed and now they have the world’s best educational system in the world. Until and unless our we get a better government, our institutions will never function well.