Universities in Hong Kong and Singapore top new Asian ranking

Two Hong Kong universities and the National University of Singapore, or NUS, share the three leading positions in the QS University Rankings: Asia, released last Monday.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology takes first place for the second year running while NUS and Hong Kong University tie for second place.

Only one Chinese university – Peking – appears in the top 10, up one place to fifth, its highest ever position.

Korean institutions take three places in the top 10: Seoul National University (fourth), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (sixth) and Pohang University of Science and Technology (seventh, equal with the Chinese University of Hong Kong).

Two Japanese universities make the top 10: the University of Tokyo (down one place to ninth) and Kyoto University (10th, equal with a second Singaporean university, Nanyang Technological University, which is up from number 17 last year).

In addition to the lowest ever position for the University of Tokyo, Japan’s other universities slipped against competitors in other Asian nations. Of the leading 10 Japanese universities, just one ranks higher than last year, while six rank lower.

The compilers say that, overall, Asian universities have gained significant ground on their Western counterparts and could overtake them within two decades.

“Asian higher education is undergoing a rapid transformation, and Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Korea are at the forefront of the assault on the global academic elite,” says Ben Sowter, head of the QS Intelligence Unit, which also compiles the QS World University Rankings.

“There are already 17% more Asian universities in the global top 200 since the recession, and the next two decades could see leading US and European universities objectively overtaken.”

The fifth edition of the QS University Rankings: Asia shows a continuing upward trend for international students to study at ranked institutions in the region, from 175,286 in 2009 to 255,212 this year. At the same time, total international faculty has grown from 21,223 to 35,677.

Sowter said: “As Western governments struggle to maintain funding levels, Asian institutions have rapidly increased their ability to attract the world’s best faculty and students.

“As the cost of studying rises in North America and the UK, Asia is reversing the brain drain by investing in scholarships to attract top students from the West.”

The Asian ranking can be found here and the methodolgy used to produce the ranking can be found here.

In a complementary ranking, QS Top 50 under 50, which ranks universities established since 1963, Asia has five of the world’s top six young institutions, which QS researchers suggest is a “forecast of a future realignment of the global balance of power from West to East”.