NUS, NTU rise up Times list of world's varsities

A graduate adjusting her glasses as she listens to a speech at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Commencement ceremony.
A graduate adjusting her glasses as she listens to a speech at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Commencement ceremony. PHOTO: ST FILE

NUS now ranked 24 and NTU 54, with both institutions citing quality staff and research as the main factors

The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) continue to rise in the premier league.

They have improved their positions in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings released today, while maintaining their good performances in other university rankings.

NUS was placed 24, up two positions from last year.

It is also the top Asian university for the second year running and the only one from Asia in the world's top 25 universities this year.

NTU was placed 54, up one spot from last year.

This follows the good showing by both universities in the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings issued a fortnight ago, where NUS and NTU kept their 12th and 13th positions respectively.

NUS and NTU started making their ascent in the Times world rankings, one of the most watched university league tables, four years ago. That year, NUS broke into the top 30, jumping 11 places to the 29th placing, while NTU leapt 83 places - from 169th in 2011.

Officials from both universities have attributed their upward trajectory mainly to the high and growing quality of the faculty members and the impact of their research, which has earned them high scores for research and reputation.

Mr Phil Baty, editor of the Times ranking, said of the two universities' improved placings this year: "The fact that NUS has been able to strengthen its leading position, and move closer to the very top of the table, is testament to its extraordinary leadership and vision, backed by a commitment to true internationalisation and serious investment and support from the Government."

"Both institutions are among the very best in the world at drawing in top international talent. NUS is also rewarded for its strong research environment, while NTU has strong research influence and is successful at attracting large sums of money from industry."

He said Singapore has introduced powerful policy drives, backed by strong funding, to produce world-class universities. He highlighted the fact that the Singapore Government now spends 2.2 per cent of its GDP on research and development, up from 1.8 per cent in 2000 and more than China and Britain.

Singapore's impressive performance is part of a wider trend of Asia's continuing ascent in this year's ranking, he noted. China's Peking and Tsinghua universities both made the top 40, while five universities in Hong Kong made the top 200. Institutions in South Korea have also made big gains in the table.

This year, there is a new No. 1 for the first time in six years, with Oxford University taking pole position.

NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan said he is pleased that NUS is continuing to do well in global university rankings. It will continue to focus on nurturing future-ready graduates and pursuing research excellence, while ensuring that its research has strong translational impact and real-world value, he said.

Noting NTU's climb up several rankings, NTU president Bertil Andersson said that while they use different metrics and methodologies, the tables show that NTU is continuing "its upward momentum".

The university's biggest improvement this year in the Times ranking was in citations per paper, achieving a new high score of 90.7. It also improved in two other key areas of higher education - teaching and international outlook.

He said NTU will continue to innovate in education and research. "By doing things right, we are confident we will maintain our rapid progress as a global university," he said.

The Times ranking, considered one of the more comprehensive university rankings, uses 13 indicators including research, knowledge transfer and international outlook to assess universities.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'NUS, NTU rise up Times list of world's varsities'. Print Edition | Subscribe