UM leads M'sian varsities in QS World University Rankings

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Malaya (UM) is Malaysia’s strongest institution overall, and the country’s highest ranked, in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject 2023.

With 36 subjects ranked, including 15 in the world top 100 (a decrease of two subjects, compared with last year’s 17), UM also produced some of Malaysia’s highest quality research and is the country's most collaborative university, in terms of international research.

Of UM’s ranked subjects, Library and Information Management, and Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies were ranked in the top 50.

Chemistry at UM was Malaysia’s most improved subject, climbing 33 ranks to place 104th.

The other two subjects at the varsity that made the most improvement were Medicine, up 16 spots to place 128th, and English Language and Literature, up eight spots to place 52nd.

Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor expressed confidence that the varsity would improve further.

The implementation of its strategic plan, he said, would lead UM to be a self-sustaining and dynamic university capable of producing leaders, imparting knowledge, and providing solutions that would impact the nation.

“I am pleased that our UM community continues to place Malaysia on the global stage through our dedication, commitment and hard work towards serving the nation and impacting the world.”

In terms of total subjects ranked, UM was followed by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, which each had 24 subjects ranked.

Released at 6pm Wednesday (March 22), the rankings offered independent data on the performance of programmes at Malaysian universities.

Of the 210 programmes, 56 improved, 53 declined and 90 remained unchanged, while 11 programmes were ranked for the first time.

With an overall improvement of 82%, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) is the world’s most improved institution. None of its ranked subjects declined in this year’s rankings, making it one of only eight universities in the world with 10 or more entries to achieve this feat.

UTP vice-chancellor Prof Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Mutalib said the rankings spoke volumes of its comprehensive strategy to be a sustainable, dynamic and digitalised university.

“We will continue to strive for excellence in academic, research and student experience.

"In research and innovation, we will support PETRONAS’ energy transition initiatives to move towards Net Zero Carbon Emission (NZCE) as one of our key areas in our quest towards sustainable global prominence,” Prof Mohamed Ibrahim added.

Taylor's University improved by 42% in the rankings and was home to three top 100 programmes, namely Hospitality & Leisure Management, Art and Design, and Business and Management Studies. 

The varsity was also among the world’s 20 most improved institutions with 10 or more ranked subjects.

Attributing the institution's success to its approach of curriculum innovation and adaptability to the changing landscape of education, Taylor's University vice-chancellor and president Prof Michael Driscoll said the varsity was constantly evolving its programmes to ensure that graduates were equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today's dynamic and ever-changing industries.

"We are committed to providing our students with the best possible education and opportunities to excel," he said.

UCSI University, the fourth highest ranked local institution with its Performing Arts programme at 21st spot globally, retained its status as Malaysia’s top university for music and the performing arts.

UCSI vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said the latest edition of the annual subject rankings showed that the varsity was making an impact in both academia and the industry.

“Maintaining an upward trajectory year after year is not easy and I would like to thank all UCSI staff, students and stakeholders for their continuous efforts.

“While there are many encouraging takeaways, we remain focused on evolving to meet the needs of an ever-changing economy. We don’t want our graduates to merely adapt to change – we want them to drive it.

“Moving forward, we will do more in the areas of research, international collaboration, industry partnership and thought leadership.”

The rankings, compiled by global higher education analyst QS, provide independent comparative analysis on the performance of more than 15,700 individual university programmes, taken by students at 1,594 universities which can be found in 93 locations across the world, across 54 academic disciplines and five broad faculty areas.

The faculty areas are Arts and Humanities, Engineering and Technology, Life Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences.

According to QS, the subject ranking is the largest ever and provides a deeper understanding of how global excellence and competitiveness in higher education is achieved.

Its senior vice-president Ben Sowter said Malaysian universities had experienced exponential growth and success, which had been reflected in QS’ Rankings portfolio in recent years.

“Malaysia now enjoys higher than average scores in all of QS’ indicators except for Academic Reputation.

"Therefore, further investment and internationalisation is needed to support the country’s next stage of development, alongside continued targeted investment in research infrastructure to ensure the international academic community recognises this progress.”

The full rankings can be found at

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