Good varsity ranking a bonus but students should still come first

Congratulations to the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) for having fared so well in the latest Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings ("NUS, NTU in top 20 of university list again"; Sept 6).

It certainly boosts our confidence in knowing that we are on the right path towards excellence.

But as with all rankings, we must be mindful not to turn the yearly ranking into a "be-all and end-all", chasing good positions at all costs.

Let us remember that education is still a people-centric business. Students should still be the centre of everything in our institutions of higher learning.

Many of them have worked hard to come this far in their academic journey. They look forward to receiving a quality education, with memorable social experiences to boot. It is here where many set their moral compass for life.

It is difficult to achieve quality without quantity in terms of face time with faculty members.

While research and symposiums are important, they should not crowd out the students, who need the attention from their instructors.

Universities should not be turned into competitive printing mills all out to chase the already crowded "best universities" ranking yearly.

A university is like a last-discovery stop before students leave to join society. Here, they are pricked by their curious intellect.

There is so much beyond one's declared major of studies. While learning to embrace diversity, they also discover themselves. They learn the discipline to stay the course all the way to graduation. In short, they learn what makes them tick.

University rankings vary greatly from year to year and are relative to different ranking agencies, each with its own criteria.

Thus, they should be taken with a pinch of salt. For all intents and purposes, let us not lose sight that students rank above all else.

Lee Teck Chuan