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Singapore and Korea take the lead in new QS University Rankings: Asia

London 12th May 2014: National University of Singapore (NUS) is named as Asia’s top institution for the first time in the QS University Rankings: Asia 2014 published today at www.topuniversities.com  The rankings reflect a swing in the balance of power, as Singapore and Korea overtake the traditionally dominant Japan and Hong Kong.  

NUS’s success is mirrored by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which climbs to 7th, its highest ever position. Korea’s KAIST climbs from sixth to second place, while Seoul National University (4th) and Postech (9th) also make the top 10. 

Thirteen of the Chinese top 20 institutions have improved their position this year, a surge in research citations. Peking University slips three places to 7th, while Tsinghua University remains 14th. 

Government funding for research and development has increased by an average of 23% per year on average for the past decade, with a further 8.9% increase to a record US$43.6 billion announced in Premier Li Keqiang’s first budget in March this year[1].

“Government investment in scientific research is starting to pay dividends, with the majority of Chinese institutions increasing both the volume and impact of their research in recent years,” says QS head of research Ben Sowter. “However, in terms of citations Peking and Tsinghua are still playing catch-up with institutions such as National University of Singapore and University of Hong Kong.”

India’s ranked institutions rise to 17 from just 11 last year yet seven of its top eight institutions drop. IIT Delhi is the top performer at 38th.

Last year’s number one institution, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology drops to 5th  while the 2011 table-topper Hong Kong University drops one place to third, making this the first time in the rankings’ history that a Hong Kong university has not topped the table.  This edition of the rankings is the first to be influenced by the restructuring of undergraduate programs from three to four years which has had a varied effect on the faculty student ratios of Hong Kong’s universities as they have all been required to enrol a double cohort of students from Fall 2012.  Further adjustments are expected over the next two years as the Hong Kong system adapts to this reform.

 “Japan’s University of Tokyo falls to 10th, its lowest ever position.

“Though the drops for Japanese universities this year are small, they continue a trend that is observable over the past three or four years,” says Sowter. “The after-effects of the financial crisis have made it harder for Japan to keep up with the improvements made by Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and China.”

The sector has faced a series of funding cuts since 2007, most recently in the form of an across-the-board reduction of public sector salaries in February 2012, at a time when several other countries in the region have made major investments[2].

“These rankings confirm the emergence of Singapore and Korea as the region’s new major players, denting the dominance of Hong Kong and Japan,” says Sowter.

“Both NUS and KAIST have benefitted from major government investment in research; while operating in English has helped them attain new levels of global engagement.”

NUS and NTU are currently benefitting from a S$16.1 billion government scheme to improve their performance in science, technology and innovation, while Korea now spends 3.6% of its GDP on research and development, among the highest in the OECD[3].

Other top performers by country:

Taiwan: National Taiwan University, 21stAnchor
Malaysia: Universiti Malaya, 31st
Thailand: Mahidol University, 40th
Philippines: University of the Philippines, 63rd
Indonesia: University of Indonesia, 71st

Join the debate about the future of Asian universities #QSWUR    


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