Every year, reports are published that determine the ranking of universities in the world. These types of reports are not just documents for the sake of reporting. Adequate investment in these rankings is due to fundamental reasons such as popularity as centers of research and education.

The fact that Azerbaijani universities are not included in the rankings of specialized educational institutions in the world created pessimism in our opinion. We noted such a lack with bitter regret and criticized it in various articles very openly. Every time we shook our heads associated with disappointment, we asked ourselves: "Why don't we have this "dragon"?"

Years go by. As an example, we could see a few of the country's universities in these rankings. We even looked half-heartedly at this rating in despair. However, when you see that the universities that can already be counted with fingers in Azerbaijan have started to enter this ranking and show the best results, then you can't help but be happy. One should only rejoice at any milestone in the name of our country. Because this is the success of all of us.

Let's start by finding the answer to the question of what happened.

First of all, let's note that the Great Britain company Quacquarelli Symonds (hereafter QS) has been determining the rankings of world universities since October 2004. QS, specialized in higher education services, has been evaluating the world's prestigious higher education institutions in various directions and categories for 20 years [1], compiling their global ranking (QS World University Rankings). QS has a long history of working with the higher education sector to build and improve a robust methodology that reliably reflects the performance of universities around the world.

QS rating calculation and key indicators

In previous years, the evaluation of the world's best universities in the QS ranking was based on 6 criteria: academic reputation - 40%; reputation among employers - 10%; the ratio of teaching staff to the number of students - 20%; citation index - 20%; the share of foreign teachers - 5%; the share of foreign students - 5%.

Currently, the QS index is calculated on the basis of 9 indicators: (i) academic reputation, (ii) reputation among employers, (iii) job security level of graduates, (iv) ratio of teaching staff to the number of students, (v) share of foreign students, (vi) number of outstanding graduates, (vii) share of foreign teachers, (viii) share of publications by scientists in cooperation with foreign colleagues, and (ix) citation index.

The rating is formed on the basis of surveys with reference to the mentioned indicators. The survey results [2] are based on an analysis of 17.5 million academic articles and expert opinions from more than 240,000 academic faculty and employers. As can be seen from the numbers, it is quite difficult to take a place in this ranking under the conditions of tough competition. It must be acknowledged.

UNEC rose to first place in the country

The QS company announced the 2024 World University Rankings. This is not just the ranking of higher education institutions in this ranking. It is a great race of universities to achieve superiority in the face of intense competition. It is difficult to get into the TOP-1500 out of 32,000 universities in the world. The scale is not easy to imagine.

When we analyze the ranking, we see that the former Caucasus University (now BEU), Khazar University, and ADA lost their previous positions. UNEC seems to have filled the gaps of these universities that lost their positions. The happy thing is that UNEC was not only added to this ranking, but managed to rise to the first place among the country's universities. As can be seen from the rating [3], UNEC managed to share 1001-1200 places worldwide for the first time. The second place was taken by BSU, and the third place was taken by ASOIU, which shared the 1201-1400 places in the world. Other Azerbaijani universities could not enter the TOP-1500 ranking table.

Analyzing the rating by indicators, it is clear that UNEC has made particularly significant progress in one direction. According to the Webometric rating, UNEC was able to rise to the top with great speed, while it was ranked in the lowest places in previous years.

When seriously analyzing the document, one can come to the conclusion that this is not just a ranking but also a result of long-term preparation for sub-indicators. For example, according to the economics and econometrics indicator, UNEC reached the 501-530th rank among world universities on average. Of course, this can be considered the result of establishing the quality of education of this university within the framework of modern requirements. At the same time, it shows how successfully this economically oriented educational institution has demonstrated competence due to narrow specialization.

UNEC's success story: How did it achieve it?

Reforms are a painful process. You should consign traditional approaches to the archives of history. You have to say goodbye to the carriers of the old system. Your rejection of the old system also makes it inevitable that someone's interests will be affected. The question of whether you are ready for this battle is held over your head like the sword of Damocles by the need to change for the better at every step. This driving force eventually pushes you towards reforms. By the way, when you analyze the history of developed countries, you see that any reforms have met with such resistance. In Spain, such educational reformers were branded as "enemies of universities".

Reforms require paving the way for new initiatives. Every new venture not only promises success but also brings the possibility of failure. It means that your successes should outweigh your failures so that you can succeed in the end. Otherwise, the fact of failure may outweigh the initiative to succeed.

The Azerbaijan State University of Economics, which is remembered by its old name, experienced the "shelling" phase 3 times: "Narkhoz", Azerbaijan State University of Economics, and UNEC. This is not just a name change. It should not be associated with the poor cat's symbolic naming of "silver". It has become a form of promotion that has been proven and successfully symbolized by a quality activity. UNEC is successfully and ambitiously doing this before our eyes. As they say, it reaps what it sows with its hard work.

Any educator who can measure the depth of the education system should welcome UNEC's ranking indicators among world universities with joy. Every success in the name of our country is the success of our entire nation. A professional educator should have a clear idea of the scale of this dynamic. Because leaving behind even well-known universities of the world countries by entering the ranking cannot be considered an episodic success. Because serious successes usually appear as a result of systematic and continuous activity.

The fact that UNEC has won many awards and entered the world rankings is related to the creation of institutional mechanisms. One of the important indicators when preparing the QS rating is related to the "share of publications of scientists in cooperation with foreign colleagues". UNEC has created a serious incentive mechanism for the publication of scientific works of its employees in foreign-indexed journals. Authors whose scientific articles were published on the Web of Science, Scopus, and Thomson Readers platforms are awarded up to 4,500 manats. The Finance Department of the University [4] noted that in 2022, UNEC employees were paid a total of 288.3 thousand manats for articles published in prestigious scientific journals. If this kind of sums were directed to the "communal" expenses that some greedy rectors like, then it would be regarded as an ordinary university with no education in its beautiful building and “unknown outside of Bilajari”. When financial and moral incentives are combined, university teachers will be interested in writing more works and contributing more to science. It seems that due to such symbiosis promotion mechanisms, the number of scientific works indexed in Scopus in the second quarter of the current year by university employees increased by 46 percent compared to the previous quarter. This created system stimulates the scientific interest of university employees at a significant speed.

The steps taken by UNEC in the direction of strengthening its international relations in recent years also attract attention. It attaches particular importance to the creation of dual degree programs with the world's leading universities. In this direction, within the framework of the university's [5] Erasmus+ and Horizon-2020 programs, the opportunities for scientific exchange of students and teachers have increased. One of the main assessment criteria in the QS rating is related to this indicator.

UNEC, which leads the ranking among Azerbaijani universities, shows a bright example and the rapid improvement of its situation on indicators creates the impression that UNEC has chosen those indicators, prepared a roadmap in that direction, and systematically built all its activities in those directions. The laws of development of the world are like this: ordinary people with a plan win over geniuses without a plan. In this sense, it is impossible to do great things without a plan. In the activity of UNEC, a systematic plan of work is visible.

Questions may arise: What does it mean to be included in this rating? What practical results can it lead to? What contributions can it make to the development of the university and students?

In response to such questions, QS founder and president Nunzio Quacquarelli shared his thoughts on the importance of 20 years of activity in this field: "Our global survey of employers is already recognized and highly appreciated. Now the rating is considered a fair and balanced assessment. It has become a really serious and reliable set of indicators."

More work should be done in order for Azerbaijani universities to enter the world's top rankings. For this, modern universities should be established and their construction should be created. The Spanish philosopher and pedagogue José Ortega y Gasset writes in his book "Mission of the University" [6] about the basic principles of education: "The school depends more on the social environment it is in than on the artificial pedagogical atmosphere within its walls. The conclusion: even if the English secondary education and the German university were developed, they cannot be mastered because they are parts of the whole. The reality that surrounds them is the country that founded and supports them." We must build a country where the quality of modern universities comes from world rankings. Willpower and a reforming spirit must be strictly behind the success of such a university.    







[6] Xose Orteqa-i-Qasset, “Universitetin missiyası” səh.38

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