University Rating and Ranking: Acceptance or Rejection? (Part I).(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)
Byline: : Mona Dumalao Valisno
LAYMANS perspective: A reality chess.
The word "layman" itself already elicits questions. To us in the field of education, the broadest definition of "layman" would simply be this: anyone who is not an educator by training. That would be nearly all the billions of people who populate the world and that is a concept that is just too huge to take in all at once. So, I resort to the tried and tested "divide and conquer" strategy. I also take another look at our topic. The words "acceptance" and "rejection" have the heaviest impact. The word "university" also makes its impression.
With these three words, I go into a word association mode and the fourth word that comes to mind is "people" and followed by the questions: "Accepted by whom?" and "Rejected by whom?"
It has been all too-often said that we, educators, are in the knowledge business. But it is sometimes overlooked that we are also in the "people business." We generate, develop, promote and preserve knowledge. That is what we do. But why do we do it? Certainly not just for the pleasure derived from mental, as well as emotional, gymnastics, but also and perhaps, more importantly, because the purpose of any knowledge activity is to seek the Truth and serve people.
We do what we do for people. The difficulty with this idea is much like realizing that to us educators, the layman is every single non-educator among the Earth's billions of people. There must be some way to make that idea digestible. There is.
Since educators should not operate in a vacuum, I borrow some techniques from Public Relations experts and practitioners because, like us, they are also in the people business. PR specialists have a way of "dividing and conquering" people. Like us, they also "play" with people's minds. In Public Relations, people are stakeholders or publics. A university has a whole range of different stakeholders. Now we get closer to answering the question on acceptance and rejection.
For whom are we undertaking our benchmarking, ranking and rating activities? Among our many stakeholders, is there one or are there some whose interests matter much to us while others less? Yes, they are all important, but are some more important than others? Come to think of it, of the many stakeholder groups or publics, who is first? Who is our real and most important boss? To whom are we really accountable? The Governing Board? The Government Regulator? The Faculty Association/ Union? The Business Community? The International Community?
Pose these questions to the PR expert and to the Marketing Manager and they will respond with another question: Who is the stakeholder you cannot do without? I have come to the conclusion that without students there can be no universities and colleges. Students are our most important clients. Next in line are their parents and families. All the other important stakeholders fall in line or branch out into several lines.
The PR expert and the Marketing Manager will then follow-up and follow through by having us draw up a matrix that identifies all our stakeholders from the most important to the not-as-important. The matrix also asks us to input the needs, wants and expectations concerning education and universities. The matrix also asks us to ascertain whether we are addressing those needs, wants and expectations.
Finally, we come to the end of the Reality Check Exercise. Do our benchmarking, ranking and rating activities address or meet all, most, some or none of these needs, wants and expectations - and in the order of stakeholder importance? If they do not, our ranking and rating efforts are for nothing.
Usefulness is the first measure against which our various measures must be measured. Does the survey or ranking matter to the student, his/her family, community, and all the other sectors of society with which the student interacts or will inevitably interact? …