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Research Article
Open Access Peer-reviewed

Challenges of International Ranking of Egyptian Universities from the Academicians’ Perspective

Mohamed M. Ghoneim Sywelem
American Journal of Educational Research. 2020, 8(7), 465-474. DOI: 10.12691/education-8-7-3
Received May 28, 2020; Revised June 29, 2020; Accepted July 08, 2020

Abstract

The purpose of the current study is to identify the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities as perceived by university academicians, and analyze the significant differences among the participants’ responses based on their gender, position title, specialization, and experience. A 28 items survey covered the four areas of challenges of university rankings was used. A sample of 325 academicians in eleven Egyptian state universities was surveyed. Responses received only from 247 academicians, representing a response rate of 76 percent. The responses indicated that the most ranking challenges for Egyptian universities ascending by means were: ‘Faculty Challenges’, ‘Research Challenges’, ‘Institution Challenges’, and ‘Quality Challenges’, all of these challenges were in high level. There were no significant differences at the 0.05 level among the university academicians related to their gender, position title, specialization, and experience.

1. Introduction

University Rankings are an aspect of what has become known as the international ‘battle for excellence’; they are used to determine the status of institutions, assess the quality and performance of the higher education system, and measure global competitiveness 1. University rankings have emerged first in response to globalization and the pursuit of new knowledge as the basis of economic growth in such a globalized economy 2. Rankings provide a healthy competition which serves as self-improvement tools for universities as it provide them incentives to improvements of their performances 3. University administrators depend on university rankings as indicators of improvement over time and in comparison to other universities 4. Governments use university rankings to shape their policies to drive the economy, academics use them to determine their scientific partnerships, and to choose the best job offer, and commercial companies use rankings to make correct decisions about their investments in different educational establishments 5.

Modern rankings have emerged because of what was perceived to be a lack of publicly available information about the quality and performance of higher education institutions 1. University rankings have become powerful mediators of the meaning of higher education quality 6, they are used as a benchmarking or quality assurance tool, some governments used rankings to decide whether a particular institution should be classified or how it should be formally recognized 7. Rankings are shaping the horizon of governments and stakeholders on the quality of higher education intuitions 8.

Clarke 9 argued that the growing demand for rankings has been ‘fuelled by several trends in higher education, including increasing participation rates, higher costs, and the view of students as consumers who expect value for money’ (p. 35). Students and parents use university rankings to determine in which university they have to study to guarantee a prestigious job after graduation 5. Usually top-ranking universities attract high performing local and international students 2, 10. Parents and students are the main audiences of university rankings, beside governments and foundations giving scholarships to students 3. The usefulness of rankings to students is well assured by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education which noted:

“Students invest both time and money in their education; as a result, it is important for potential students to have access to comprehensive and relevant information about higher education before they choose” ( 11, p. 6).

University rankings have an impact on an institution’s external resources by attracting investment and increasing institutional revenues 12. Top-ranking universities usually attract additional funding from public and non-public sources 2. Besides, rankings, once established, have become important components for universities to shape their institutional identity 13; they are moving universities away from local-linked approaches to offer an international character based on international standards to offer global opportunities for students 3. Fowles, et al. 13 who have also focused on reputational effects of rankings wrote that:

“University ranking has high public visibility, the ranking business has flourished, and institutions of higher education have not been able to ignore it” (p. 790).

There are many rankings that focus on everything from the fame and fortune of a particular institution to student-teacher ratio, extracurricular activities, internships, undergraduate education, employment after graduation, and affordability 6. Global rankings of world universities vary in the criteria used for excellence, the “Big Three” global university rankings are: The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), known as the Shanghai Ranking, the QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) World University Rankings, and the Times Higher Education World University Ranking (THEWUR) 14. Table 1 provides the indicators used by ARWU, QS, and THEWUR to determine what counts as a world-class higher education institution:

Generally, Rankings provide a useful instrument for public accountability, supplying information to consumers and policymakers on capacities in terms of higher education which in turn helps in assessing the measurable differences in service quality and taking right decision in improving their academic standards.

2. A brief overview of Egyptian Higher Education

Egypt has the largest education system in the Middle East and North Africa region 15. Higher education system in Egypt is regarded as the oldest education system in the world, as it dates to the opening of the Al-Azhar University in 365 AH/975 CE 16. The higher education system in Egypt includes 24 public universities and 23 private universities, in addition to the American University in Cairo and 150 institutions 17.

In Egypt the public or state universities usually absorb the overwhelming majority of Egyptian students. Being national institutions, they often use Arabic-language curricula, and work under political censorship and repression which limit critical approaches 18. Generally, higher education in Egypt has been for long-suffering from different problems inherent in overly centralized governance, overcrowding, poor quality of education, and widespread inefficiencies 19.

2.1. Challenges of Egyptian Higher Education
2.1.1. Quality Challenges

According to the Arab human development report (2003), the most important challenge in the education field lies in the deterioration of education quality, the report pointed that higher education in most Arab countries lacks a clear vision and policies that govern educational processes as a whole 18. Higher education institutions in the Arab world are constrained by low-quality education, and mismatch between education and the needs of labor market 20. Arab universities usually produce low-caliber graduates who cannot compete in the global market 21, and who have shown relatively poor performance in the workplace 22. There is widespread consensus that Arab universities are under-performing, delivering outcomes that do not reflect the size of the investment 23. In this regard, Guessoum 24 noted that the state of most Arab universities is known to be poor. According to the global competitiveness ranking (2013-2014) compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Egypt ranked 118 out of 148 countries in terms of the overall competitiveness of its institutions and higher education policies 25.

Most universities in the Arab countries have a poor international reputation; therefore, considerable efforts are being made at the regional level to enhance the quality of higher education bodies, and local initiatives are being implemented to create regional quality assurance commissions 26. Nearly all Arab countries have established national agencies for assessing the quality of higher education institutions. In Egypt, the National Authority for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Education (NAQAAE) was established in 2006 27. Despite the efforts made to enhance the education quality, Al-Kabi 5 and Badran 10 noted that most quality assurance commissions concentrate their efforts only to comply with the rules of higher education accreditation bodies, which are linked directly to governments, rather than really attempt to improve the education quality.


2.1.2. Research Challenges

Higher education in the Arab world is witnessing the development of a poor scientific research environment 27. Scientific research is the midst of a crisis in Arab countries 12. Currently most Arab universities suffer from lack of strategic plans, lack of independence, weak research, and therefore lack of innovation 28. Weakness in scientific research in Arab universities is due to lack of strategic future planning, disinterest by the private sector, and dependence on imported foreign expertise 29, 30. Because scientific research is facing a crisis, Arab universities are not able to compete on the international levels 12, 31.

One of the main reasons why the Arab universities lagged back behind world class universities is lack of research excellence 5, as the poor contribution of Arab universities to the production of knowledge affects their position in global rankings 32. While several higher education institutions in the Arab world have progressed in size, their contribution to the scientific literature remains relatively modest 27. And research production has been found to be disproportionately low, relative to the population or the financial capabilities of each Arab country 24.

Funding is a major obstacle to scientific research, studies 33, 34, 35 indicated that lack of funding and research resources are serious challenges faced by faculty members in most Arab universities. Aladwan 36, the secretary general of the Association of Arab Universities, presents a list of some of the challenges confronting research activities in Arab universities. Prominent among them has been the low rates of expenditure and consequent low output from scientific research. According to Al-Kabi 5 high-quality research needs a financial support, while most Arab universities complain of shortages in money and equipment.

Anderson 37 indicated that limited academic freedom contributes to the deterioration of research in Arab universities. According to Andersson and Djeflat 38 the universities’ lack of autonomy has prevented independent scientific research and hampered universities from taking initiatives, generating new creative ideas and introducing innovations. On the other hand, Naifah 28 claimed that scientific research in Arab universities is detached from the business and market realities and conducted merely for the sake of faculty promotion. Badran 10 added that the functional links between Arab universities with industry and the marketplace do not exist, and contractual research is minimal. Several studies reported the disconnection between scientific research in Arab universities and economic and social development 29, 30, 33, 35, 39. In addition, Forster 40 argued that the lack of investment in high-quality research at Arab universities is one plausible reason for their low ranking.


2.1.3. Faculty Challenges

One factor affecting the quality of higher education in Egypt is lack of proper faculty salary 21; faculty’s salaries in Egyptian public universities are around $260 per month, which is hardly sufficient to support a family 41. To make up for economic shortages, the faculty members have recourse to private tutoring and charge students for academic notes and reading materials, Anderson 37 commented on the state of Egyptian universities saying that “The universities, and their faculty and students, are trapped in a vicious cycle of inexpensive, low quality, and not very enlightening education” (p. 773).

Many faculty members in Egyptian universities feel frustrated because of lack of professional development, lack of research funding, and lack of financial and moral incentives 28. The findings by Albargouty and Abosamrah 33 indicated that heavy teaching schedules, low salaries, and incentives as among the main reasons for weak research by faculty members in Egyptian universities. These factors, as Hanafi 21 claimed, make the level of education in Egyptian universities problematic. In addition, they may cause, as Aladwan 36 argued, the brain drain from Egyptian universities.

Faculty members publish very little in international journals and in languages other than the Arabic language 21. A survey of the publications on science of education conducted by Maaloof 42 has shown that only 11 percent of Egyptian and 35 percent of Kuwaiti publish outside their respective countries. Almansour 12 argued that even if faculty members are fluent in English, they often cannot afford publication fees that may be as high as three or four times their salary. It worth noting that one reason behind the Arab universities lagged back behind world class universities is the use of Arabic language to publish 5, as publishing in Arabic is not measured in the global competitive rankings and, therefore, is not considered 12.


2.1.4. Institution Challenges

Like many countries in the Arab region, Egyptian universities operate under a very centralized control system and rigid bureaucracies 43. They lack to the institutional autonomy experience 40. The lack of autonomy is thus connected with lack of academic freedom, lack of participation in decision-making, as well as the absence of accountability and transparency 44. This lack of autonomy and self-management continues to produce a mismatch in the demand and supply of skills in the Egyptian labor market, which is problematic for both graduates and employers 43. In addition, restrictions on intellectual freedom and expression discourage good researchers from conducting high-quality research 40.

It is not possible today, and it won't be possible in the future, to build world-class universities without intellectual freedom and expression being first enshrined in the cultures and working practices of universities 40. Higher education institutions in the Arab world suffer generally and basically from lack of independence 43, they also lack freedom, connection with local problems, and lack investment by the private sector 37. Usually they are administered as extensions of state authority 45. Accordingly, state agencies control the curriculum design, approval of new degrees, and admission of university students 44.

More than 95% of educational decisions made by educational institutions in the Arab world are controlled by governments and specifically by the ministry of education. This type of centralized state model, with its lack of transparency, negatively affects institutions’ ability to innovate and significantly reduces the capacity for innovation in the domain of research and development 32. The state-dominated approach has led to numerous dysfunctions in the higher education system including stifled institutional autonomy, limited flexibility, rigidity of education and training programs, and more importantly, weak responsiveness to student demands, the needs of the labour market and national development goals 43. The absence of a public accountability system, the prevalence of a top-down authority approach which lays the grounds for the Egyptian universities’ subordination to higher authorities, and the lack of partnerships with local communities are other major concerns 44.

In terms of faculty, infrastructure, equipment and learning materials, public universities in Egypt are severely underfinanced 43. Most Egyptian universities are underequipped; they do not have the necessary scientific equipment or materials for experiments and libraries are in a very poor condition as well 44. Budget allocation approaches do not reflect the actual needs of the higher education institutions or provide the incentives required to align their educational processes and programs with needs of local community and expectations of the employers 46.

Students’ knowledge is a major concern in the current higher education system in Egypt; universities’ main challenge is how to make students acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and technologies with such weak background which concentrates on memorization and not on how to think and create 5. Assessment is another factor behind the limited scope of students’ knowledge, as Egyptian universities suffer from old assessment methods which focus on the final evaluation limited to measuring knowledge acquisition 44. They generally lack modern methods in students’ evaluation 47.

2.2. Egyptian Universities in the World Rankings

Scientific research is a fundamental criterion for the international positioning of the university; and one criterion for the success of a particular university in global ranking is measured by the quality of faculty members’ publications 48. Most global rankings are based on Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) or SCOPUS as measures of research productivity 5.

Egyptian universities, like the majority of Arab universities, are still low for research productivity. The latest figures from Scopus, including scientific journals, books, and conference proceedings, indicated that the total number of publications in the sixteen Arab countries as of September 7, 2016 was 673,977. These cover research outputs in the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and arts and humanities. While the USA was the world leader with 15,155,226 publications, and the other non-Arab countries from the Middle East and North Africa region, Turkey and Israel, have more publications than the entire Arab world (Turkey and Israel have together 943,883) 27. Regarding the H-index impact for Middle Eastern countries for the years 1996-2016, it was led by Israel of 584, Turkey 339, Saudi Arabia 241, Iran 234, Egypt 213, Lebanon 157, UAE 153, Morocco 151, Tunisia 144, Jordan 130, Algeria 125, Kuwait 123, and 105 each of Sultanate of Oman and Qatar 10.

The poor quality of higher education programs in Egypt and the level of scientific research are of the most important challenges faced international rankings of Egyptian universities. Only very few Egyptian universities have been found among the Top 500 of the major world university rankings; and no university has been found among the Top 100 of any of the world rankings. The following table presents Egyptian universities appeared among top 500 within last 5 years:

As shown in the above table, only one state university (Cairo University) has been vigorously competing with each other and worldwide to find a place in the Shanghai (ARWU) ranking of top 500 universities. While The American University in Cairo which is a private university has been vigorously competing to find a place in the QS ranking of top 500 universities. Ironically, no Egyptian universities (state or private) were included in the THEWUR ranking of top 500 universities.

3. Purpose and Research Questions

The aim of this paper is to examine the challenges of developing world-class universities in the Arab world, especially in Egypt, and to detect the reasons behind failing to achieve that aim. The study is designed to identify the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities from reviewing the literature and from the academicians’ perspective. Specifically, the following questions guide this research:

RQ1. How do academicians perceive the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian Universities?

RQ2. Are there significant differences by gender, position title, specialization, and experience in the level of academicians’ agreement on the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities?

4. Methodology

4.1. Research Design

This research employed a quantitative research method. A self-designed survey is used in this research. Kerlinger 49 describes survey research as a “useful tool for educational finding and is best adapted to obtain personal and social facts, beliefs and attitudes”. The nature of this study requires obtaining data from a sample of academicians in Egyptian universities. This study on challenges of international ranking of Egyptian Universities consists of the following procedures: survey design, selection and sampling of the population, survey distribution and collection, examination of credibility and validity of the survey, and data analysis.

4.2. Participant Characteristics

The study group consists of 247 academicians in eleven different state universities in Egypt (Suez Canal University, Cairo University, Ain Shams University, Assiut University, Mansoura University, Al-Azhar University, South Valley University, Alexandria University, Menoufia University, Beni Suef University, and Aswan University). Participants were selected randomly in accordance with the simple random sampling technique. Characteristics of participants in the study group are presented on Table 3.

4.3. Measuring Instrument

In order to collect data, the University Ranking Challenges Survey (URCS) developed by the researcher was used. Whereas the first part of the survey contained questions regarding the participants’ gender, position title, specialization and experience; the second part was based on the items regarding the challenges of university ranking. Purposely, the survey focuses on participants’ perceptions of four important aspects of challenges: research challenges (10 items); quality challenges (6 items); faculty member challenges (6 items); and institution challenges (6 items). The survey utilized a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1= strongly disagree (SD) to 5= strongly agree (SA).

4.4. Instrument Validity and Reliability

For the purpose of examining the validity of the instrument (face validity evidence), the instrument was presented to nine professors. They were asked to assess the statements’ relevance with the themes that were classified to them in advance; and were asked to assess the scale in terms of face validity, intelligibility and usability. Based on the experts’ comments, some revisions regarding to the language were done to the instrument, and the number of statements was reduced to thirty and further modified. Finally, after analysis of potential problems, the URCS survey was finalized with twenty-eight items.

Regarding the reliability of the instrument, the internal consistency of the variables was analyzed using Cronbach’s alpha. Table 4 illustrates the results of internal consistency analysis for the University Ranking Challenges Survey (URCS):

The Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for each variable were higher than the recommended benchmark of 0.70 50. The internal consistency for each item was also checked, results indicated that all items had a strong significant correlate (above .70**) with sub dimensions and with total degree of the URCS. These values were reasonably satisfactory to support the objectives of the current study, and the instrument seemed to be valid and reliable measure for use with the academicians’ population.

4.5. Data Collection and Analysis

The research used random distribution of surveys. The surveys were distributed among academicians in eleven Egyptian state universities. A total of 325 surveys were distributed and 265 were returned. The number of valid surveys was 247, yielding the return rate for the survey is 76 percent. Data were collected during the spring semester of the 2019-2020 school years.

The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version (21) was used to analyze the data collected from the surveys. Descriptive statistics providing means and standard deviations were calculated for the first question. The independent samples t-test and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were employed to answer the second question.

In order to understand the results of the current study, it was important to set specific cut points to interpret the academicians’ total scores related to their level of agreement on the challenges of university ranking. The researcher used the response scale of each item ranged from 1 to 5 scores in the determination of these cut points according to the following way: 1- 1.79 = Strongly Disagree (SD), 1.80 - 2.59 = Disagree (D), 2.60 - 3.39 = Neutral (N), 3.40 - 4.19 = Agree (A), and 4.20 - 5 = Strongly Agree (SA).

5. Results

Question 1. How do academicians perceive the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities?

The first question sought to find out the academicians’ level of agreement on the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities. In order to answer this question means and standard deviations were used. Table 5 presents the results.

Table 5 presents means and standard deviations for each dimension ordered by the highest mean value. Higher mean values indicate a higher level of agreement on the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities whereas lower mean values indicate a lower level of agreement. As shown in the above table, the mean of the ‘Faculty Challenges' dimension is higher than all other means (= 4.04), followed by ‘Research Challenges’ (= 4.01), followed by ‘Institution Challenges’ (= 3.87), and followed by ‘Quality Challenges’ (= 3.71), all of these responses were in high level.

Regarding the Faculty Challenges in Table 6, three particular challenges were of concern. Academicians indicated concerns with ‘Low socioeconomic status of faculty members’ (M= 4.53), ‘Migration of university professors to other countries’ (M = 4.45), and ‘Limited English proficiency among faculty members’ (M = 3.86).

Regarding the Research Challenges in Table 7, three particular challenges were of concern. Academicians indicated concerns with ‘Decreased spending on scientific research’ (M = 4.56), ‘Lack of sufficient research resources’ (M = 4.40), and ‘Lack of awards and incentives for publishing in high-impact journals’ (M = 4.38).

Regarding the Institution Challenges shown in Table 8, three particular challenges were of concern. Academicians indicated concerns with ‘University-Industry weak cooperation’ (M = 4.21), ‘Universities’ lack of independence’ (M = 3.96), and ‘The absence of international faculty members’ (M = 3.89).

Regarding the quality challenges shown in Table 9, three particular challenges were of concern. Academicians indicated concerns with ‘Low employability of university graduates’ (M = 4.08), ‘Mismatch between market needs and university output’ (M = 4.00), and ‘The decrease in the quality of university education’ (M = 3.84).

Question 2. Are there significant differences by gender, position title, specialization, and experience in the level of academicians’ agreement on the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities?

Independent samples t-test was performed to determine whether or not the academicians’ perceptions regarding the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities vary in terms of gender, specialization and experience. The results are listed in Table 10.

According to the results shown in Table 10, the academicians’ views regarding the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities did not show any significant differences in terms of the gender variable [t = .031; p > 0.05], the specialization variable [t = 1.726; p > 0.05], and the experience variable [t = 1.112; p > 0.05]. These results reflect the similarities among the academicians’ perceptions regarding the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities.

One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine whether or not the academicians’ perceptions regarding the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities vary in terms of the position variable. The results of analysis are presented in Table 11.

As shown in Table 11, there were no significant differences among the Egyptian academicians in their views regarding the challenges of university ranking in terms of the position variable [F= 0.201; p > 0.05]. This result implies that all academicians (Assistants, Associates, and even Full Professors) in Egyptian universities have the same perspective regarding the challenges stand against the international recognition of Egyptian universities.

6. Discussion

Global university rankings have become more important; scholars viewed global rankings as crucial to universities in determining their self-image and position in the world 12. The discussion section of this paper addresses the above-mentioned issues that Egyptian universities confront in their quest to be recognized as globally relevant institutions. Universities in Egypt are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to global competition and rankings among universities.

Given a low ranking of Egyptian universities, the purpose of this investigation was to survey a sample of academicians in Egyptian universities on the challenges that contribute to poor performance in global competition and subsequent university rankings. The results of this study may be understood in internationally level, not in national level. The results revealed that the ‘Faculty Challenges’ dimension is higher than all other dimensions, followed by ‘Research Challenges’, followed by ‘Institution Challenges’, and followed by ‘Quality Challenges’. All dimensions were in ‘high levels’ degree. In addition, the results revealed that gender, specialization, experience, and position variables had no significant differences on the combined dependent variable of the academicians’ views regarding the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities.

When addressing the international ranking of Egyptian universities top challenges, results of study revealed that the overall top dimension is ‘Faculty Challenges’. All of six items in this dimension were as high levels include: ‘low socioeconomic status of faculty members’, ‘migration of university professors to other countries’, and ‘limited English proficiency among faculty members’. These results agree with Almansour and Kempner 51 which considered faculty’s socioeconomic status an important factor affecting research output and consequently university global ranking. And agree with Goff, Zarin and Goodman 52, and Aladwan 36 which indicated that the Arab Spring and the political instability have triggered the brain drain from Egypt. And agree with Al-Kabi 5, and Hanafi 21 which considered the lag of Arabic universities behind world class universities resulting from publishing in Arabic language and faculty’s inability to publish in international journals and in languages other than Arabic. According to Almansour 12 publishing in Arabic is not measured in the competitive rankings and, therefore, is not considered.

The second highest dimension mean total is ‘Research Challenges’, the ten items in this dimension were as high levels include: ‘decreased spending on scientific research’, ‘lack of sufficient research resources’, and ‘lack of awards and incentives for publishing in high-impact journals’. These results agree with Naifah 28 which indicated that the frustration of faculty members in Arab universities resulting from lack of research funding and scientific publication incentives. Also agree with Almansour 12 which noted most Arab universities were in critical need of funding. Lack of funding and sufficient research resources have been identified in studies 34, 35 as serious challenges faced by faculty members in most Arab universities.

The third highest dimension mean total is ‘Institution Challenges’. All of six items in this dimension were high levels that include: ‘University-Industry weak cooperation’, ‘universities' lack of independence’, and ‘the absence of international faculty members’. These results agree with Anderson 37 which indicated that universities in the Arab world have not been places of innovation or inventions due to lack of independence and academic freedom. And agree with Naifah 28 which argued that scientific research in Arab universities is detached from the business and market realities and conducted merely for faculty promotion. Not only could the Egyptian universities attract international faculty members, but they also couldn't keep the distinguished local faculty who are poorly paid. According to Altbach 41 faculty’s salaries in Egyptian public universities are around $260 per month.

The fourth dimension is ‘Quality Challenges’, with six items were in high levels, include: ‘low employability of university graduates’, ‘mismatch between market needs and university output’, and ‘the decrease in the quality of university education’. These results agree with Hanafi 21, Djeflat 22 which argued that Arab universities produce low-caliber graduates who cannot compete in the global market. Also agree with Naifah 28, Adams and Winthrop 20 which referred to the mismatch of skills learned in most Arab universities versus the skills needed in the workforce. In addition, these results agree with the Arab Human Development Report of (2003) which indicated that the most important challenge in the field of education lies in the deterioration of the quality of education in most Arab countries.

7. Conclusion and Implications

This is a preliminary study which aims at identifying the main challenges facing Higher Education Institutions in Egypt to build world-class universities. This study intended to investigate the insights of a sample of academicians in Egyptian state universities about their perspectives on the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities. This investigation is to understand further the factors impacting the global rankings of Egyptian universities. Surveying a sample of academicians in Egyptian state universities further illuminated our understanding of the challenges causing Egyptian universities lag behind the global rankings.

For every university, the quest for higher rankings has become an indicator of national pride. Unfortunately, very few Egyptian universities are able to achieve world-class rankings. In addition to the above mentioned challenges (faculty challenges, research challenges, institution challenges, and quality challenges), the Arab spring revolutions in Egypt and some Arab countries have only served to increase the challenges confronting higher education institutions. Egyptian universities need to function as academic research institutions to get their personal and global respect and recognition as world-class universities. The foremost concern for universities is to provide financial and moral support for faculty members. Unless professors feel sufficient to support their families, they won't be motivated to conduct good research. Research is highly improbable under such hard socioeconomic conditions, and the migration of distinguished professors, in the “brain drain”, will probably continue. Therefore, a research infrastructure should be developed that values faculty members, offers recognition, and supports research through grant funding, training, as well as publication assistance.

In reference to the implications of this study, it recommends that higher education policymakers in Egypt should support universities’ efforts on their way of international rankings. While this study will add to the existing literature on university global rankings, it is hoped that higher education authorities in Egypt, university presidents, and stakeholders are to be provided with insights into factors challenging the global ranking of Egyptian universities. Based on that, the following recommendations made based on the findings, and observations made by the researcher: Additional studies should undertake on larger population across Egyptian universities to further validate the outcomes. Further studies across different universities (state and private universities) are required to gain an insight into more challenges impacting the international ranking of Egyptian universities. Further qualitative research can be conducted to find out: Why gender, position, specialization, and experience variables had no significant differences on academicians’ perceptions regarding the challenges of international ranking of Egyptian universities. A longitudinal study can be conducted to find any trends or changes in academicians’ perspective regarding the challenges impacting the global ranking of Egyptian universities.

Disclosure Statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

Notes on Contributor

Mohamed M. Ghoneim Sywelem Associate Professor of Educational Foundations at College of Education, Suez University, Egypt.

ORCID

Mohamed Sywelem: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3177-9259

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[18]  UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) (2003). Arab Human Development Report 2003: Building an Arab Knowledge Society. New York: UNDP.
In article      
 
[19]  Said, M. (2009). "The impact of reform projects in higher education: The case of Egypt." Retrieved April 19, 2020 from: http://search.shamaa.org/PDF/41452/SaidEn41509.pdf.
In article      
 
[20]  Adams, A. and Winthrop, R. (2011). "The role of education in the Arab world revolutions." Brookings Institution. Retrieved from: http://www. brookings.edu/research/opinions/2011/06/10-arab-world-education-winthrop
In article      
 
[21]  Hanafi, S. (2011). "University systems in the Arab East: Publish globally and perish locally vs publish locally and perish globally." Current Sociology, 59(3), 291- 309.
In article      View Article
 
[22]  Djeflat, A. (2009, December). "Building Knowledge Economies for job creation, increased competitiveness, and balanced development." Paper presented at the High Level international conference. Carthage, Tunisia.
In article      
 
[23]  Waterbury, J. (2018). "Governance of Arab Universities: Why Does It Matter?" In: Badran A., Baydoun E., Hillman J. (eds) Universities in Arab Countries: An Urgent Need for Change ( pp. 55-70). Springer, Cham.
In article      View Article
 
[24]  Guessoum, N. (2018). "Is Liberal Arts Education a Good Model for Arab Universities?" In: Badran A., Baydoun E., Hillman J. (eds) Universities in Arab Countries: An Urgent Need for Change (pp. 175-185). Springer, Cham.
In article      View Article
 
[25]  Schwab, K. (2013). The Global Competitiveness Report: 2013-2014. Geneva, Switzerland: World Economic Forum.
In article      
 
[26]  Azzi, G. (2018). "The Role of Religious Organizations Running Higher Education Institutions in the Arab World in Governance Reform." In: Georges Azzi (eds) Higher Education Governance in the Arab World (pp. 171-193). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
In article      View Article
 
[27]  Bouri, E. and Maalouf, M. (2018). "The Impact of Governance in Higher Education Institutions on Scientific Research in the Arab World." In: Azzi G. (eds) Higher Education Governance in the Arab World (pp. 65-82). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
In article      View Article
 
[28]  Naifah, A. (2008, June). "Quality of education and its impact on accreditation and world ranking." Paper presented at the King Saud University Workshop: University Ranking and Accreditation. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In article      
 
[29]  Farah, H. (2014, August). “Developing scientific research methodology.” Paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Development of Research in Higher Education. Amman, Jordan.
In article      
 
[30]  Hafiz, A. (2014, August). “Challenges confronting social studies research centers at Arab countries and problems in dealing with current issues.” Paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Development of Research in Higher Education. Amman, Jordan.
In article      
 
[31]  Alsayed, A. (2007, December). “Where are we from scientific research? A study of the state of scientific research at Arab universities.” Paper presented at the Conference Arabian Universities: Challenges and Future Horizons, Rabat, Morocco.
In article      
 
[32]  Habchi, A. (2018). "The Role of Governments in Shaping Governance of Higher Education Institutions in the Arab World." In: Azzi G. (eds) Higher Education Governance in the Arab World (pp. 105-130). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
In article      View Article
 
[33]  Albargouty, E. and Abosamrah, M. (2007). “Difficulties of scientific research in the Arab world: An Islamic view.” Islamic University Journal, 15(2), 1133-1155.
In article      
 
[34]  Altbach P, Salmi J, (eds.) (2011). The Road to Academic Excellence the Making of World-Class Research Universities. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
In article      View Article
 
[35]  Ismael, M. (2014, August). “Challenges of the private sector ‘participation in scientific research funding.” Paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Development of Research in Higher Education. Amman, Jordan.
In article      
 
[36]  Aladwan, S. (2013, November). "Scientific research and higher education in the Arab world." Paper presented at the 1st Annual Higher Education Leadership Forum: Inspiring the Leaders of Today, Dubai, UAE.
In article      
 
[37]  Anderson, L. (2012). "Fertile ground: the future of higher education in the Arab World." Social Research, 79(3), 771-784.
In article      
 
[38]  Andersson, T. and Djeflat, A. (2013). The Real Issues of the Middle East and the Arab Spring: Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. New York: Springer.
In article      View Article
 
[39]  Albomohammed, A. and Albadrie, S. (2012, April). “Realities and challenges of scientific research in the Arab world.” Paper presented at the 2nd International Arab Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education, Gulf University, Bahrain.
In article      
 
[40]  Forster, N. (2018). "Why are there so few world-class universities in the Middle East and North Africa?" Journal of Further and Higher Education, 42(8), 1025-1039.
In article      View Article
 
[41]  Altbach, P. (2013). The International Imperative in Higher Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-94-6209-338-6.
In article      View Article
 
[42]  Maaloof, R. (2009). "Characteristics of the database of Arab Educational Information Network ‘Shamaa’." Unpublished paper.
In article      
 
[43]  OECD and World Bank (2010). Higher education in Egypt. OECD and the World Bank.
In article      
 
[44]  Ahmed, H. O. (2015). "Strategic approach for developing world-class universities in Egypt." Journal of Education and Practice, 6(5), 125-145.
In article      
 
[45]  Wilkens, K. (2011). "Higher Education Reform in the Arab World." In: The Brookings project on US relations with the Islamic world. 2011 US-Islamic World Forum Papers. The Brookings Institution.
In article      
 
[46]  Fahim, Y. and Sami, N. (2010). "Access to and equity in financing higher education in Egypt." In: Gala and T. Kanaan (eds), Financing higher education in Arab countries (pp. 11-28), Cairo, Egypt: the Economic Research Forum.
In article      
 
[47]  ElAmine, A. (2014). "Quality Issues in Higher Education Institutions in the Arab Countries (A Synthesis of Case Studies)." In: A. ElAmine (ed.), Quality Issues in Higher Education in the Arab Countries (pp. 13-38). Beirut: the Lebanese Association for Educational Studies
In article      
 
[48]  Altunay, E., and Tonbul, Y. (2015). "Comparison of scientific research projects of education facilities." Studies in Higher Education, 40(6), 972-987.
In article      View Article
 
[49]  Kerlinger, F. (2000). Foundations of behavioral research (4th edition). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt College Publishers.
In article      
 
[50]  Hair, J., Black, W., Babin, B. and Anderson, R. (2010). Multivariate Data Analysis: A Global Perspective, 7th Edition, Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River.
In article      
 
[51]  Almansour, S. and Kempner, K. (2015). "Princess Nourah Bint Abudulrhman University’s challenge: Transition from a local to a global institution." Higher Education, 70(3), 519-533.
In article      View Article
 
[52]  Goff, L., Zarin, H., and Goodman, S. (2012). "Climate-induced migration from northern Africa to Europe: Security challenges and opportunities." The Brown Journal of World Affairs, 18(2), 195-213.
In article      
 

Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2020 Mohamed M. Ghoneim Sywelem

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Mohamed M. Ghoneim Sywelem. Challenges of International Ranking of Egyptian Universities from the Academicians’ Perspective. American Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 8, No. 7, 2020, pp 465-474. http://pubs.sciepub.com/education/8/7/3
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Sywelem, Mohamed M. Ghoneim. "Challenges of International Ranking of Egyptian Universities from the Academicians’ Perspective." American Journal of Educational Research 8.7 (2020): 465-474.
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Sywelem, M. M. G. (2020). Challenges of International Ranking of Egyptian Universities from the Academicians’ Perspective. American Journal of Educational Research, 8(7), 465-474.
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Sywelem, Mohamed M. Ghoneim. "Challenges of International Ranking of Egyptian Universities from the Academicians’ Perspective." American Journal of Educational Research 8, no. 7 (2020): 465-474.
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  • Table 6. Means and standard deviations related to the academicians’ level of agreement on faculty challenges
  • Table 7. Means and standard deviations related to the academicians’ level of agreement on research challenges
  • Table 8. Means and standard deviations related to the academicians’ level of agreement on institution challenges
  • Table 9. Means and standard deviations related to the academicians’ level of agreement on quality challenges
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[2]  Hertig, H. (2016). Universities, rankings and the dynamics of global higher education: Perspectives from Asia, Europe and North America. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
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[3]  Badran, A. and Badran, S. (2019). "Indicators of Institutional and Program Ranking of Universities with Reference to the Arab World." In: Badran A., Baydoun E., Hillman J. (eds) Major Challenges Facing Higher Education in the Arab World: Quality Assurance and Relevance (pp. 179-210). Springer, Cham.
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[4]  Vernon, M., Balas, E., and Momani, S. (2018). "Are university rankings useful to improve research? A systematic review." PLoS One, 13(3).
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[5]  Al-Kabi, M. N. (2014, April). "Towards building world class universities in the Arab world." Paper presented at the 4th International Arab Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education, Zarqa University, Egypt.
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[6]  Stack, M. (2016). Global University Rankings and the Mediatization of Higher Education, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
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[7]  Hazelkorn, E. (2014). "Reflections on a Decade of Global Rankings: what we’ve learned and outstanding issues." European journal of education, 49(1), 12-28.
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[8]  WEF (World Economic Forum) (2015). Why are University rankings so important? https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/12/why-are-university-rankings-so-important/.
In article      
 
[9]  Clarke, M. (2007). "The Impact of Higher Education Rankings on Student Access, Choice, and Opportunity." Higher Education in Europe, 32(1), 59-70.
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[10]  Badran, A. (2018). “Landscape of Higher Education in the Arab World: Quality, Relevance, and Student Mobility.” In: Badran A., Baydoun E., Hillman J. (eds) Universities in Arab Countries: An Urgent Need for Change (pp. 71-84). Springer, Cham.
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[11]  HSV (2009). Ranking of Universities and Higher Education Institutions for Student Information Purposes, Högskoleverket - the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education
In article      
 
[12]  Almansour, S. (2016). “The crisis of research and global recognition in Arab universities.” Near and Middle Eastern Journal of Research in Education, 2016(1), 1-13.
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[13]  Fowles, J., Frederickson, H., and Koppell, J. (2016). "University rankings: Evidence and a conceptual framework." Public Administration Review, 76 (5), 790-803.
In article      View Article
 
[14]  Badran A., Baydoun E., and Hillman, J.R. (2019). "Introduction." In: Badran A., Baydoun E., Hillman J. (eds) Major Challenges Facing Higher Education in the Arab World: Quality Assurance and Relevance (pp. 1-11). Springer, Cham.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[15]  Rasmy, M. (2018). The World Bank's support to higher education reform in Egypt: Educator's perspective on its impact for quality and equality (Unpublished master’s thesis). The American University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt.
In article      
 
[16]  Abdelkhalek, F. and Langsten, R. (2019). "Track and Sector in Egyptian Higher Education: Who Studies Where and Why?" FIRE: Forum for International Research in Education, 6(2), 45-70.
In article      
 
[17]  Radwan, M. (2016). "Arab Republic of Egypt." In: Lai, Yew Meng, Ahmad, Abdul Razak, Wan, Chang Da (Eds.), Higher Education in the Middle East and North Africa (pp. 11-39). Singapore: Springer.
In article      View Article
 
[18]  UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) (2003). Arab Human Development Report 2003: Building an Arab Knowledge Society. New York: UNDP.
In article      
 
[19]  Said, M. (2009). "The impact of reform projects in higher education: The case of Egypt." Retrieved April 19, 2020 from: http://search.shamaa.org/PDF/41452/SaidEn41509.pdf.
In article      
 
[20]  Adams, A. and Winthrop, R. (2011). "The role of education in the Arab world revolutions." Brookings Institution. Retrieved from: http://www. brookings.edu/research/opinions/2011/06/10-arab-world-education-winthrop
In article      
 
[21]  Hanafi, S. (2011). "University systems in the Arab East: Publish globally and perish locally vs publish locally and perish globally." Current Sociology, 59(3), 291- 309.
In article      View Article
 
[22]  Djeflat, A. (2009, December). "Building Knowledge Economies for job creation, increased competitiveness, and balanced development." Paper presented at the High Level international conference. Carthage, Tunisia.
In article      
 
[23]  Waterbury, J. (2018). "Governance of Arab Universities: Why Does It Matter?" In: Badran A., Baydoun E., Hillman J. (eds) Universities in Arab Countries: An Urgent Need for Change ( pp. 55-70). Springer, Cham.
In article      View Article
 
[24]  Guessoum, N. (2018). "Is Liberal Arts Education a Good Model for Arab Universities?" In: Badran A., Baydoun E., Hillman J. (eds) Universities in Arab Countries: An Urgent Need for Change (pp. 175-185). Springer, Cham.
In article      View Article
 
[25]  Schwab, K. (2013). The Global Competitiveness Report: 2013-2014. Geneva, Switzerland: World Economic Forum.
In article      
 
[26]  Azzi, G. (2018). "The Role of Religious Organizations Running Higher Education Institutions in the Arab World in Governance Reform." In: Georges Azzi (eds) Higher Education Governance in the Arab World (pp. 171-193). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
In article      View Article
 
[27]  Bouri, E. and Maalouf, M. (2018). "The Impact of Governance in Higher Education Institutions on Scientific Research in the Arab World." In: Azzi G. (eds) Higher Education Governance in the Arab World (pp. 65-82). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
In article      View Article
 
[28]  Naifah, A. (2008, June). "Quality of education and its impact on accreditation and world ranking." Paper presented at the King Saud University Workshop: University Ranking and Accreditation. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In article      
 
[29]  Farah, H. (2014, August). “Developing scientific research methodology.” Paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Development of Research in Higher Education. Amman, Jordan.
In article      
 
[30]  Hafiz, A. (2014, August). “Challenges confronting social studies research centers at Arab countries and problems in dealing with current issues.” Paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Development of Research in Higher Education. Amman, Jordan.
In article      
 
[31]  Alsayed, A. (2007, December). “Where are we from scientific research? A study of the state of scientific research at Arab universities.” Paper presented at the Conference Arabian Universities: Challenges and Future Horizons, Rabat, Morocco.
In article      
 
[32]  Habchi, A. (2018). "The Role of Governments in Shaping Governance of Higher Education Institutions in the Arab World." In: Azzi G. (eds) Higher Education Governance in the Arab World (pp. 105-130). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
In article      View Article
 
[33]  Albargouty, E. and Abosamrah, M. (2007). “Difficulties of scientific research in the Arab world: An Islamic view.” Islamic University Journal, 15(2), 1133-1155.
In article      
 
[34]  Altbach P, Salmi J, (eds.) (2011). The Road to Academic Excellence the Making of World-Class Research Universities. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
In article      View Article
 
[35]  Ismael, M. (2014, August). “Challenges of the private sector ‘participation in scientific research funding.” Paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Development of Research in Higher Education. Amman, Jordan.
In article      
 
[36]  Aladwan, S. (2013, November). "Scientific research and higher education in the Arab world." Paper presented at the 1st Annual Higher Education Leadership Forum: Inspiring the Leaders of Today, Dubai, UAE.
In article      
 
[37]  Anderson, L. (2012). "Fertile ground: the future of higher education in the Arab World." Social Research, 79(3), 771-784.
In article      
 
[38]  Andersson, T. and Djeflat, A. (2013). The Real Issues of the Middle East and the Arab Spring: Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. New York: Springer.
In article      View Article
 
[39]  Albomohammed, A. and Albadrie, S. (2012, April). “Realities and challenges of scientific research in the Arab world.” Paper presented at the 2nd International Arab Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education, Gulf University, Bahrain.
In article      
 
[40]  Forster, N. (2018). "Why are there so few world-class universities in the Middle East and North Africa?" Journal of Further and Higher Education, 42(8), 1025-1039.
In article      View Article
 
[41]  Altbach, P. (2013). The International Imperative in Higher Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-94-6209-338-6.
In article      View Article
 
[42]  Maaloof, R. (2009). "Characteristics of the database of Arab Educational Information Network ‘Shamaa’." Unpublished paper.
In article      
 
[43]  OECD and World Bank (2010). Higher education in Egypt. OECD and the World Bank.
In article      
 
[44]  Ahmed, H. O. (2015). "Strategic approach for developing world-class universities in Egypt." Journal of Education and Practice, 6(5), 125-145.
In article      
 
[45]  Wilkens, K. (2011). "Higher Education Reform in the Arab World." In: The Brookings project on US relations with the Islamic world. 2011 US-Islamic World Forum Papers. The Brookings Institution.
In article      
 
[46]  Fahim, Y. and Sami, N. (2010). "Access to and equity in financing higher education in Egypt." In: Gala and T. Kanaan (eds), Financing higher education in Arab countries (pp. 11-28), Cairo, Egypt: the Economic Research Forum.
In article      
 
[47]  ElAmine, A. (2014). "Quality Issues in Higher Education Institutions in the Arab Countries (A Synthesis of Case Studies)." In: A. ElAmine (ed.), Quality Issues in Higher Education in the Arab Countries (pp. 13-38). Beirut: the Lebanese Association for Educational Studies
In article      
 
[48]  Altunay, E., and Tonbul, Y. (2015). "Comparison of scientific research projects of education facilities." Studies in Higher Education, 40(6), 972-987.
In article      View Article
 
[49]  Kerlinger, F. (2000). Foundations of behavioral research (4th edition). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt College Publishers.
In article      
 
[50]  Hair, J., Black, W., Babin, B. and Anderson, R. (2010). Multivariate Data Analysis: A Global Perspective, 7th Edition, Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River.
In article      
 
[51]  Almansour, S. and Kempner, K. (2015). "Princess Nourah Bint Abudulrhman University’s challenge: Transition from a local to a global institution." Higher Education, 70(3), 519-533.
In article      View Article
 
[52]  Goff, L., Zarin, H., and Goodman, S. (2012). "Climate-induced migration from northern Africa to Europe: Security challenges and opportunities." The Brown Journal of World Affairs, 18(2), 195-213.
In article