Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

Asian Universities Rankings for 2014 [QS system]

I see that the QS rankings for Asian universities are now out:

Out of the top 20, there are 6 each in South Korea and Japan, 4 in Hong Kong, and 2 each Singapore and China. Other nations represented in the top 50 are Taiwan, Malaysia, India and Thailand.

In the top 50, the numbers by country are as follows:

1. Japan = 13.

J2. China = 9, and South Korea = 9.

J3. Hong Kong = 6, and Taiwan = 6.

J4. Singapore = 2, Thailand = 2, and India = 2.

5. Malaysia = 1.

For Thai readers, the 2 top ranked Thai universities are MU [#40] and CU [#48].


Given their small population sizes, the high rankings of Hong Kong and Singapore are impressive.


Here is the Guardian’s take on the data:

The Guardian refers to the following possible reasons for rankings success:

1. Government investment, especially in the promotion of science and technology.

2. University collaboration with high-tech start-ups.

3. A ‘focused international strategy’.

4. ‘Minimal political interference in institutional governance’.

Both the Guardian and the QS spokesguy make what I think is the fundamental error of reifying the figures (what I have termed elsewhere ‘false facticity’) — university rankings are arbitrary constructs and different companies and organizations produce different rankings. There is no one single way to evaluate university excellence. Nor do minor differences in rank order have much significance — I’m sure that NUS (#1) and UHK (#3) are both excellent institutions, and I doubt that the rank difference between them has any real significance. Similarly, I doubt whether the slightly lower ranks of Japanese universities in this year’s ranks compared to last year’s has any real significance. Gross differences on the other hand do seem to me significant — thus the presence of an institution in the top 20 [or 50] (say) is of note, as is the fact that very small places like HK and Singapore have so many more high-ranking universities than large countries like India.

Here is a Malaysian view of the data:




One comment on “Asian Universities Rankings for 2014 [QS system]

  1. Pingback: Asian Universities Rankings for 2014 [Times Higher Education system] | Peter Smith

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This entry was posted on May 15, 2014 by in Universities and tagged , , .
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