Malaysian varsities soar in rankings

PETALING JAYA: Ten Malaysian varsities, seven public and three private, are ranked among the top 110 best universities in Asia, with Universiti Malaya (UM) breaking into the top 10 of Quacquarelli-Symonds (QS) Asia University Ranking for the first time.

In its 2021 edition, UM now ranks ninth after climbing four places from the 2020 edition, followed by Universiti Putra Malaysia (28th), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) (34th), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) (35th), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (39th), Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) (70th), Taylor’s University (89th), UCSI University (105th), Universiti Utara Malaysia (107th) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (108th).

“This is the country’s best performance so far. This achievement places Malaysia as a higher education hub in the Asian region, enabling institutions to collaborate with the world’s leading researchers, ” said Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad in a statement on Wednesday.

Noraini said the QS report listed Malaysia as among the countries that showed the best improvement.

The national education system, she added, had been accepted as “highly reputable” among academics and employers in Asia.

UM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor said the university’s goal was to strive for excellence by benchmarking itself against outstanding universities.

“We want to uplift Malaysian higher education as well as to enhance its reputation as a global player and one of the best universities in the world.

“UM is committed to providing the nation with world-class education, on par with other renowned global institutions, and becoming the leading choice for higher education among students around the globe, ” he said in a statement.

UTP described its placement in the top 70 as its best achievement to date.

“I am pleased to see that our strategic partnerships with universities in the region as well as the high- quality graduates that we produce are recognised by diverse industries, which contributed to our standing in the rankings, ” said UTP vice-chancellor Prof Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Mutalib.

Taylor’s University vice-chancellor Prof Michael Driscoll said they were anticipating the improvement shown in the rankings, following a year of achievements in various other QS rankings.

Despite Covid-19, the varsity’s vision of “radical administrative and curriculum reforms”, he said, had served them well.

“We accelerated our digitalisation efforts to pave the way for innovation in teaching and learning, ” he added.

UCSI University vice-chancellor and president senior professor Datuk Dr Khalid Yusoff said being among the top 110 universities in Asia was a milestone for the varsity.

He attributed the success to the commitment of the varsity’s staff and students.

Although it was the first time HELP University participated in this QS ranking, it still placed in the 401-450 category, and was also ranked first among 650 universities in Asia for its Outbound Student Exchange programmes, the university said.

Management and Science University president Prof Tan Sri Mohd Shukri Ab Yajid said this was the varsity’s best performance since it took part in the rankings in 2018.

USM deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International) Prof Datuk Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah said the varsity regarded all rankings as indicators of progress.

However, he said the varsity was mindful not be “swayed” by metrics as it practised a holistic approach, and was guided by its vision and mission.

“We will analyse the instruments and methodology, and will use these to gauge our progress and identify gaps, ” he said.

UKM pro vice-chancellor (Strategy and Corporate Development) Prof Dr Norman Mohd Salleh said moving forward, the varsity planned on further improving its research to be more industry relevant and produce students who were able to meet industry needs.

More funding, he said, would allow public universities to perform better.

Universiti Malaysia Terengganu vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Nor Aieni Mokhtar said it would continue to implement formulated strategies to achieve its targets after moving up 48 spots.

Continuous research, teaching, internationalisation, and university visibility would continue to be its main focus, she added.

Noraini said 35 local universities were listed in the QS Asia University Rankings 2021, with six new universities joining the ranking.

“Twenty-four universities have improved their position compared to last year, three universities maintained their positions, and two universities fell in their rankings, ” she added.

The National University of Singapore was named the continent’s best university for the third consecutive year.

The QS report ranks the continent’s 650 best institutions through 11 key indicators, with the full rankings found at

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