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Dr. Khaled Al-Rasheid, director of King Saud University's Distinguished Scientists Fellowship Program (DSFP), has recently brought attention to the growing relevance of international university rankings and KSU's rising standings according to these arbiters of university excellence.
Dr. Al-Rasheid points to the Russian Ministry of Education's announcement of the universities which it deems acceptable for admission to Russian postgraduate programs. The Russian list of universities includes universities in the G-8 countries (Canada, USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Japan) that are in the top 300 of the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), as published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University or the QS World University Rankings.
King Saud University is not immediately affected, as Saudi Arabia is not a member of the G-8; it is believed, however, that other non-G8 universities may be added to the list. It is likely, for example, that the National University of Singapore or the University of Hong Kong (both universities rank highly according to university ranking organizations) will soon be added to the list.
The official Russian announcement is further evidence of the rising significance of international university rankings. Some poignant examples are provided in a new book by Ellen Hazelkorn, Rankings and the Reshaping of Higher Education: The Battle for World-Class Excellence, which chronicles how rankings are helping reshape higher education in the age of globalization.
Universities and national policymakers are increasingly using rankings as a guide to institutional quality. For example, there have been proposals in the Netherlands and Denmark that immigration should be limited to those who have graduated from a number of top universities as determined by university rankings. Other countries have restricted scholarships only to those universities with a high position in the rankings.
In 2011, the ARWU ranked King Saud University the 261st internationally, while the QS World University Rankings placed KSU at 200. Both ranking organizations listed King Saud University as the top university in the Arab world.
Such achievements are by no means a surprise to KSU administration and national policymakers, who have made a concerted effort in past years to improve every facet of the university system. Led by KSU Rector Abdullah Al-Othman, King Saud University will undoubtedly continue to rise in international stature and bring further benefits to the university and its students, alumni and faculty.