Malaysian varsities set record

Striving for more: Prof Poppema says the varsity can only go upwards from here on.

SUNWAY University is the top non-government-linked university in the country, according to the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2023.

This is especially meaningful as it marked the first time the varsity made it into the prestigious rankings, said Sunway University president Prof Sibrandes Poppema.

The latest edition of the rankings saw a record number of 22 Malaysian universities making an appearance, compared to 18 last year.

Newcomers Sunway University and Universiti Malaysia Pahang entered straight into the top 1000 band, while Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Universiti Malaysia Sabah were placed in the 1201-1500 and 1501+ bands, respectively.

The global rankings provided an overview of a university’s quality, drawing on an analysis of 15.5 million research publications and 121 million citations to those publications, plus over 40,000 responses to an annual academic reputation survey and hundreds of thousands of additional data points covering a university’s teaching environment, international outlook and industry links.

Prof Poppema said the varsity was pleased to have been ranked, particularly since its reputation in education and research had grown.Sunway Unversity also topped the International Student Barometer for Career Support, with a 92.3% satisfaction rate, compared to the average of 77.6% globally.

It is also the country’s highest ranked institution for graduate employability, according to the Talentbank National Graduate Employability Index.

“From here on, Sunway University can only go upwards because the number of articles and citations has increased sharply in the past two years,” he told StarEdu.

The latest edition of the rankings also saw Universiti Malaya (UM) maintaining pole position as the country’s top-performing institution, despite dropping from the 301-350 band to the 351-400 band.

Other Malaysian institutions that made the list were Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS and Universiti Utara Malaysia (401–500); Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (601–800); Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris and Universiti Tenaga Nasional (801–1000); Universiti Malaysia Perlis and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (1001–1200); Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Multimedia University, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (1201–1500); and Universiti Teknologi Mara (1501+).

The THE World University Rankings 2023, which measured institutions across 13 performance metrics to provide an overview of a university’s quality, was released on Oct 12.

Singapore has two universities in the world top 50: National University of Singapore at 19th, and Nanyang Technological University at 36th.

China has 95 universities in the rankings, Indonesia and Thailand 18 each, followed by six from Vietnam and four from the Philippines.

Describing Singapore as a growing world powerhouse for excellence in higher education, THE chief knowledge officer Phil Baty said it is worrying that other Asean nations are falling behind the global competition.

“Although Vietnam has retained the positions of its leading universities, Malaysia’s flagship UM has dropped out of the world top 350, the University of the Philippines out of the top 800, and the University of Indonesia out of the top 1,000.

“Some of Thailand’s leading universities have also slipped,” he said in a press release.

Baty said he hoped that greater cooperation and integration in higher education and research across Asean, the influence of Singapore’s world-leading status as a global hub for research excellence, and more activity with thriving neighbours to the North in East Asia and South in Oceania would lead to a revival of the region’s universities.

International competition, however, is extremely intense, he said, adding that funding requirements are extremely demanding, and one has to run very fast just to stand still in the global rankings.

Globally, the United Kingdom’s Oxford University retains the top spot for the seventh consecutive year, with Harvard University in the United States and Cambridge University in the UK coming in second and third, respectively.

A record number of 1,799 universities from 104 countries and regions were ranked – 137 more than last year.

The number of US universities represented in the top 100 continues to fall, from a peak of 43 in 2018 to 34 this year.

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