Asian unis moving up


ASIAN universities are slowly gaining prominence in the international academic arena. This year’s Times Higher Education (THE) World Reputation Rankings features 18 Asian institutions in its list – an increase from 10 in 2015.

Japan’s University of Tokyo is in 12th place and China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University were placed 18th and 21st respectively.

Asia’s strong performance in this year’s ranking of the world’s most reputable universities, based on an invitation-only survey of top academics, follows the continent’s growing presence in the flagship THE World University Rankings in recent years.

With five universities ranked this year, China easily leads among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations in the World Reputation Rankings.

“The rise of Asia has become something of a cliché in recent times – but our evidence, from six global surveys over six years, including the views of more than 80,000 scholars, proves that the balance of power in higher education and research, is slowly shifting from the West to the East,” said THE World University Rankings editor Phil Baty.

“We now have a Chinese university in the world top 20 for the first time, and another right behind it in the top 30,” he said.

Singapore has two varsities in the Top 100 - National University of Singapore (26) and Nanyang Technological University (81-90).

Paul Blackmore, professor of higher education at the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said Asia’s rising performance is due to a combination of “undoubted growth in university systems” and “of more being known among those giving a view”.

“Reputation is the global currency of higher education. It may be subjective, it may not always be fair, but it matters deeply,” he said.

Harvard University takes the top spot for the sixth time, and with 43 institutions in the top 100, the United States (US) still dominates the ranking.

The United Kingdom (UK) remains the second most-represented nation in the list, with 10 universities making the cut.

“This ranking draws on the expert views of many thousands of academics around the world, and simply looks at which institutions have the best global reputations for both teaching and research,” Baty added.

He also said that the global higher education world is changing.

“Some leading lights in the US and UK, for example, household names, have lost ground, while universities in China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea are all making progress.”

No Malaysian universities have made it into this ranking since it started in 2011.

When asked how Malaysian universities could make it into these rankings, Baty said “there is no magic formula”.

He did, however, suggest local varsities focus on creating high-impact research to gain global prominence.

“A high international focus, and a commitment to professional communications and marketing of universities’ achievements, would all be helpful,” he added.

This ranking is based on statistically-representative, invitation-only survey of more than 10,000 leading, published academics from 133 countries.

The survey was carried out between January and March this year.

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