What trends in regards to Iraq’s universities has The Times University rankings noticed? University of Babylon was recently included for the first time in your rankings. Do you expect further growth?
We have seen very positive growth in Iraq’s visibility in Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings. In 2018, just one Iraqi university appeared in the prestigious list of the world’s top research-intensive universities. Today, there are eight universities that meet Times Higher Education’s quality thresholds to join the world rankings. The eight ranked this year is double the number from last year, so the growth is really impressive.
What are the greatest strengths of Iraq’s universities which the Times Higher Education has noticed?
Iraq’s universities, in general, do struggle to compete fully with the leading universities across the world, but our data shows evidence of strengths in key pockets. University of Babylon, for example, has a relatively high score for the impact of its research, judged by an analysis of the academic citations of its published research, helping it reach the top 800 in the world. University of Technology, Iraq, also has a strong research impact score, helping it reach the world top 1,000.
On average, overall, Iraq universities have much stronger staff-student ratios than the world averages, suggesting a more intimate and intense teaching environment for students, but unfortunately they suffer from low research productivity and under-funding relative to the rest of the world.
Which sectors within Iraq’s university system do you find most notable?
It is worth noting that while Iraq has eight universities listed among the world’s research elite in the traditional THE World University Rankings, it has a highly impressive 47 universities ranked in Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings – which use pioneering new indicators to assess a university’s economic and social impact, measured through the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.
While the world rankings measure primarily research excellence and prestige, and are naturally influenced by wealth and resources, the Impact Rankings focus on the impact universities make on the ground – through their teaching, research, outreach and stewardship. So Iraq is a really stand-out performer in this new ranking and the growth has been remarkable, from just three participants in the inaugural impact rankings in 2019, to 47 today.
Of the 47, Iraq has some world leaders for impact. University of Basrah is in the world top 400 overall, with particular strength in SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production). The universities of Babylon and Baghdad both make the overall world top 600, and Iraq universities show leadership for SDG16, which assesses their partnerships with others in support of delivering the SDGs.