NTU makes it to top 10 in Asia

Stacey Chia 5194/81286454 all facts checked

THE Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has climbed seven spots to reach 10th position in the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking of Asian universities released early this morning. ( Jun 11)

This is its highest position since the rankings were first published in 2009.

The exercise by London-based education and career consultancy QS lists Asia's top 300 universities based on criteria such as academic reputation, number of papers per faculty and ratio of students to faculty.

Professor Bertil Andersson, president of NTU said: "NTU has become a talent magnet, attracting more top students and some of the world's best professors."

For example, he said that the University saw an increase of 60 per cent of top A level students enrolling this year over 2011.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) maintained its No. 2 spot. The top spot went to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

Universities from South Korea and Japan also dominated the list.

The Singapore Management University was not included in the ranking because it is considered a "specialist institution" focusing on social science and management, said a QS spokesman. To qualify for the overall ranking, a varsity needs to offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in at least two broad areas of study, such as, arts and humanities, engineering and technology , and social sciences and management.

NTU also performed well in another QS ranking of universities worldwide under 50 years old also released today. It is now ranked No. 2 after the HKUST.

Of the rise of NTU, QS head of research Ben Sowter said that starting off with a fairly limited number of disciplines before branching out to the social sciences and medicine has been a "shrewd tactic" that has served it well.

The University's new medical school will be taking in its first cohort of students this year and will also be moving into new research areas such as food science, technology and photonics, a branch of physics.

"I think its difficult for a young university to compete across the whole range of the academic spectrum, because they end up spreading their money too thin in order to compete across the board," said Mr Sowter.

Apart from retaining its position, NUS is the top performing institution in Asia for employer reputation and second in Asia for academic reputation.

It also rose from fifth in Asia to second for citations per paper, which suggests highly influential research, said the QS spokesman.

"As the global focus shifts to Asia, we will continue our pursuit for transformative advances in education and research to bring about a lasting impact in Singapore, Asia and the world," said Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS Deputy President ( Academic Affairs) and Provost.

Mr Sowter said that judging by the rankings, Asian universities have gained significant ground and could overtake its Western counterparts within two decades.

He said that many Asian universities are younger and have "less inertia to overcome in order to change".

"Asian economies are going to be more competitive than Western economies, and obviously money is a big factor in the development of higher education systems and institutions," added Mr Sowter.

staceyc@sph.com.sg