Peter Smith

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The ‘Top 10’ Asian Universities in the 2014 Rankings

International comparisons between universities and colleges have become enormously popular and influential over the past decade. Although each of the most-widely cited ranking systems uses a different set of criteria and metrics with which to define and measure university excellence, and so often produce very divergent results, there is considerable agreement with regard to the top Asian universities.

Thus, taking only the popular Quacquarelli Symonds [QS] and the Times Higher Education [THE] rankings, we can see that there is substantial agreement between the two in identifying the ‘Top 10’ Asian universities.

For the QS system, these are:
-1. National University of Singapore.
-2. Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST).
-3. University of Hong Kong.
-4. Seoul National University.
-5. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
-6. The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
-7. Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
-8. Peking University.
-9. Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH).
-10. The University of Tokyo.

For the THE system, they are:
-1. The University of Tokyo.
-2. National University of Singapore.
-3. University of Hong Kong.
-4. Seoul National University.
-5. Peking University.
-6. Tsinghua University.
-7. Kyoto University.
-8. Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST).
-9. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
-10. Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH).

Out of the two ‘Top 10s’ then, 8 universities are in both lists and those only in one of the Top 10 lists scores very highly in the other [THE includes Tsinghua [6] and Kyoto Universities [7] but not the Chinese University of Hong Kong [12] & Nanyang Technological University [11]].

This gives us a total of 12 Asian universities that are included in one or both of the Top 10s. These comprise:
Three universities in Hong Kong:
-The University of Hong Kong.
-The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
-The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Three universities in South Korea:
-Seoul National University.
-Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST).
-Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH).

And two each in Singapore, Japan and China:
-National University of Singapore.
-Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

-The University of Tokyo.
-Kyoyo University.

-Peking University.
-Tsinghua University.

You will notice that these 12 universities are located in only 5 countries or territories: Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Japan and China, and that apart from Singapore, all these universities are in East Asia. Correspondingly, there are no universities from South Asia in either of the Top 10s and from Southeast Asia, only Singapore,

Also note that despite their tiny size and small population base, Hong Kong and Singapore have some of the best ranked universities in Asia, completely surpassing the large and populous nations of South and Southeast Asia and at least equaling the population giants of Japan and China in East Asia. Clearly, having a large population and resource base is not sufficient for developing academic excellence as measured by these two rating agencies.

Note that the same group of countries dominate the lists of the Top 20 Asian universities in the 2 ranking systems. Thus, in the QS system, out of the top 20, there are 6 each in South Korea and Japan, 4 in Hong Kong, and 2 each Singapore and China. Whilst in the THE system, if we exclude the Middle East – which THE includes in Asia but QS excludes, the Top 20 include 5 universities each in Japan and South Korea; 4 in Hong Kong; 3 in China; 2 in Singapore and 1 in Taiwan. Only if we take the Asian Top 50 in the two lists do we get a wider range of countries with Thailand, Malaysia and India being added to the list. Most Asian countries are still excluded, however.

In world terms, according to the QS rankings, only 16 of the top world universities are in Asia – the majority being in North America and Europe. The THE figure is even lower – a mere 11 of the top 100.

Interesting though these figures are, it is useful to remember that they are NOT absolute measurements of quality. Different ranking systems give different results reflecting the different variables and metrics they employ. Thus, in our region, the University of Tokyo was ranked 1st in Asia by the THE but only 10th by QS.

Links:
QS: http://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/asian-university-rankings/2014#sorting=rank+region=+country=+faculty=+stars=false+search=

THE:http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2013-14/world-ranking/region/asia

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This entry was posted on July 24, 2014 by in Universities and tagged , .
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