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S'pore university tops Asia ranking for first time

Publication Date : 13-05-2014


The National University of Singapore (NUS) has pipped two Hong Kong rivals to finish No. 1 for the first time in a ranking of Asian universities.

"NUS completes its remarkable ascent to the top of the table, having placed 10th when the rankings were first compiled in 2009," said London-based education and career consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), which released the results this morning.

It was rated tops in Asia by a survey of over 8,000 graduate employers, and also makes the top five for academic reputation and research citations.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) also moved up in the ranking, rising three places to seventh, its highest-ever position.

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology was placed second, while University of Hong Kong and Seoul National University were third and fourth.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology fell from first to fifth, the first time a Hong Kong institution has failed to top the table since 2009.

In sixth place was The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Ben Sowter, QS head of research, said the results confirm Singapore and South Korea as the region's new major players.

Universities from these countries and those from Hong Kong and China have grown to command respect in global rankings in the last decade, he added.

As English-speaking and major global transit hubs, Singapore and Hong Kong enjoy some natural competitive advantages.

"However, NUS taking the top spot this year has also been the product of its undeniable evolution to world-class with cutting edge education and research augmented by pragmatic and consistent leadership, strong institutional branding and exceptional financial management."

NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan said the university was honoured: "This is a strong affirmation of our distinctive education and excellent research, and a testament to the high quality work by our faculty, staff and students."

Professor Bertil Andersson, president of NTU, said: "Singapore should be proud to have two universities among Asia's top seven."

Despite its relative youth, NTU has moved up 10 positions in the ranking in the last two years and scored full marks for its reputation among employers, he added.

The QS ranking of the top 300 Asian universities is the latest of several university league tables. Earlier this month, the Times Higher Education magazine released its list of top universities under 50 years old.

Students shopping for universities say they look at such rankings but also weigh other factors.

Mandy Ng, 19, who has to choose between NUS and NTU, said: "I would naturally want to go to the business school that is more highly ranked, because it matters later on when you go into the job market."

But it also depends on course modules as well as options such as overseas opportunities, she said.

Experts have also warned governments against basing higher education policies on rankings.

The Unesco Institute for Statistics (UIS), which will release a report next week on higher education in Asia, said yesterday that the race was on to build world-class universities.

But Hendrik van der Pol, UIS director, said directing more funding to top-tier universities means pockets of excellence elsewhere might be overlooked.

"In terms of national development, countries might benefit more by supporting these emerging universities that are excelling in niche areas but may not yet appear in international rankings," he said.

Still, university rankings do matter, said Prof Tan of NUS. "Rankings may have some impact as highly ranked universities are more likely to have deeper partnerships with a wider set of high-quality institutions around the world."

Students get to study under a larger number of top professors, among other things, he said.

Top 10 universities
1. National University of Singapore
2. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
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
8. Peking University
9. Pohang University of Science and Technology
10. The University of Tokyo


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