asia universities
Singapore's National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University are the top of the QS Asia University Rankings 2020. Source: Shutterstock

Asia’s universities are becoming more prominent year after year, as economies in the region strengthen and universities climb world rankings.

According to QS Top Universities, “The rankings are compiled using 11 indicators, each weighted according to their importance in the index. These indicators include academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, international research network, citations per paper and papers per faculty.

“Other less heavily weighted indicators include staff with a PhD, proportion of international faculty, proportion of international students, proportion of inbound exchange students and proportion of outbound exchange students.”

The latest QS Asia University Rankings 2020, officially launched on Wednesday November 27, comprises of 550 universities, with 68 new entrants featured this year.

Singapore, China and Malaysia’s universities shine in latest Asia rankings

The latest rankings reflect the strength on some of the best universities in Asia. Singaporean stalwart, the National University of Singapore (NUS), took first place again, followed by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – also in Singapore – in second place, outranking the University of Hong Kong, which fell to third place this year.

China’s universities are also rising steadily in the Asia rankings, with Tsinghua University, Peking University, Zhejiang University (ZJU) and Fudan University ranking 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th respectively this year.

Zhejiang University’s ranking is particularly impressive, jumping from number 13 in 2018 to number six this year, outranking The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which has dropped one spot from number seven to number eight.

According to a statement by QS Top Universities, “Mainland China dominates the rankings for number of universities, with 118 in total and four among the top-ten: a remarkable progress. Until 2015, only one university from Mainland China featured among Asia’s top ten.

Hong Kong‘s top three universities drop one place each, whilst the next four down rise and there is even a new entry. The performance of the Special Administrative Region in the ranking has not (yet) been affected by the protracted civil unrest.”

Other notable rankings include Malaysia’s University of Malaya (UM). The MalayMail reported, “University of Malaya (UM) has risen by six places from last year in the Quacquarelli-Symonds (QS) University Rankings Asia, taking the 13th place.

“The milestone achievement also sees UM rise upwards for the ninth consecutive year. Since the ranking’s inauguration in 2009, the university has managed to improve its ranking by 26 places throughout.”

Besides UM, 21 of the 29 ranked Malaysian institutions improved their positions this year.  Noting this impressive rise, QS Top Universities’ statement reads, “Malaysia continues its noteworthy progress, excelling in the reputational indicators, the international research network criterion, and internationalisation metrics.”

As for India, there are 20 new entries on the ranking, but none were able to break into the top 30. The highest ranked Indian university was The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay at number 34.

South Korea and Japan’s universities fail to rise

South Korea and Japan’s universities didn’t fare as well in this year’s Asia rankings, although seven universities in South Korea remain in the top 100.

According to the statement from QS Top Universities, “Japan has endured another stagnant year. Although it has eight universities in the top-30 and 87 in total, the majority have dropped. Relative regression in the research indicators, is largely responsible for this indifferent performance.

“South Korea, with 71 universities ranked, shows a persistent pattern of small falls, with Seoul National University dropping out of the top ten.”

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