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Way to go UJ!

Jul 08,2023 - Last updated at Jul 08,2023

Since the emergence of global university rankings about twenty years ago, the pressing question has been: When will our universities be among the top 500?

The question's intent is linked to the questioner's attitude, of course: Some people ask it satirically and derisively, based largely either on pure ignorance or utter negativity, implying that our universities are incapable of entering this category.

Some ask it out of hopefulness, wishing that our universities would one day be among the top international universities.

Others ask it out of frustration and despair due to the numerous challenges our universities face; or perhaps because they do not believe in rankings in the first place.

And some ask the question, formulating it as a strategic goal to work towards, and this is what has happened in the case of several of our universities that have responded to the challenge.

The common denominator among all of these perspectives, despite the divergent attitudes, is that entering this category, i.e. the top 500, is not an easy task for our universities. The high competitiveness among universities, including both the well-established global giants known for their excellence in everything and the newly established ones in our region and the world, which are equipped with immense support and resources, makes the process extremely challenging.

The circumstances of our universities, especially the public ones, are well-known: they are burdened with challenges and pressures at all levels. Nevertheless, they compete relying on their reputation, on their legacy, on their dimensions of outstanding performance in research, teaching and administration; and on an unwavering will.

And the University of Jordan (UJ) has finally done it. It has entered the top 500!!

Who else but UJ is capable of doing it?!

Way to go our “mother” university, and who else but mothers can create miracles?!

It is indeed an immense and historic achievement; joyful news. What has happened is a victory for the entire country, which insisted on establishing its first university, despite the challenges and the many competing priorities then.

The story of the University of Jordan is the story of Jordan, and that's why their names and lots are ever intertwined: determination and success despite the hard circumstances and the limitations. And UJ is, as a great national poet has put it, the country’s “banner and cloak”.

Much can be said on this truly auspicious occasion, but I will confine myself to the following points:

First, this leap did not come abruptly, and it is not a coincidence. Over the past decade, UJ, which was initially rated as a three-star institution according to the QS ranking, then four stars, and then five stars, has made remarkable progress in terms of specific fields and specializations, many of which have been in the top 500 category for some time now.

This overall leap was preceded by sub-leaps, and it is a cumulative effect resulting from the efforts exerted over so many years, which extend in fact all the way back to the establishment of the university on solid foundations.

Second, the importance of this leap lies in the fact that it broke a significant barrier, similar to what athletes do in breaking world records, and this is an important aspect of this achievement.

However, its importance also lies in motivating the universities of the nation to follow suit.  UJ, it should be stressed, has never only thought of itself, but as the “mother” and the “elder sister,” its joy is never complete without witnessing progress made by other universities in the country. And what warms the heart, indeed, is that several of them have achieved significant progress, even if they have not broken the barrier.

Third, what has happened is a fundamental and historic achievement, but it is not the end of the road; it is, in fact, only the beginning. It poses a great challenge and incentive, not only to maintain the achievement but also to advance in the rankings.

This requires addressing all the challenges, and not just some or many of them. It is important to note that rankings do not encompass all aspects and all challenges, as they focus on specific criteria. By contrast, we, who are at the university, are familiar with all aspects and aware of all the challenges. Therefore, concerted efforts are necessary to enhance all dimensions of performance according to robust quality standards, which are more comprehensive and broader than ranking criteria.

In the meantime, we rejoice and celebrate, while preparing for the challenges that lie ahead.

Warmest congratulations to all who have contributed to this resounding success: the current UJ administration and Board of Trustees for adding to UJ’s advancement, to previous administrations for their roles in building and enhancing, and for faculty members, students, employees, and all the friends and supporters of UJ.

But first and foremost, congratulations and thanks go to the inspired and inspiring Hashemite leadership that has lent significant patronage and care to UJ since its inception; and to this very day.

Perhaps, what describes the achievement most accurately as well as the reasons behind it, is the verse in the UJ anthem which states, “In the name of our Jordan, her name ever rises.”

Indeed, as Jordan’s name ever rises; so does that of UJ.

Way to go, UJ!

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