Two Singapore universities have emerged world-beaters in a ranking released today by London-based education consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
The National University of Singapore (NUS) maintained its position as Asia's best performer since the rankings by subject began in 2011, topping 18 out of 30 disciplines in the region.
It was ranked fifth in the world for chemical engineering. Ten other subjects including politics, statistics and modern languages made the global top 10. But NUS had more subjects in the global top 10 last year, with 12.
"We are happy that NUS continues to be recognised as among the best universities in the world," said NUS deputy president of academic affairs and provost Tan Eng Chye. He noted that the institution had done well across disciplines such as engineering, arts and humanities and natural sciences.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was in turn first in Asia for communication studies and education.
Its communication studies course was rated sixth-best in the world, up from 11th last year. For the first time, it beat NUS' communication and media studies, which placed ninth, down from fourth place last year.
NTU president Bertil Andersson said the ranking affirms "the international standing of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information".
In previous years, academics and university students here had questioned the QS rankings for placing NUS' communications and new media course above NTU's four-year communication studies course.
While the NUS course started only in 2004 and is a sub-specialisation in its arts and social sciences faculty, the NTU one was established at least two decades ago.
Explaining the reversal of positions, QS head of research Ben Sowter said: "The main driver for the shift in (the) communication (courses) is in academic reputation, where NTU has made good ground and NUS has lost a little. NTU has also made incremental headway in the research indicators."
He noted that NTU showed strongest improvements in biology, politics and electrical engineering. NUS shared improvements in biology and electrical engineering, but also did well in sociology, environmental sciences and history. "Both institutions demonstrate strength both overall and in key disciplines and help Singapore to hit well above its weight in these rankings," he said.
The QS ranking evaluates universities on 30 subjects such as history and law. Results are based on research citations and responses from more than 90,000 academics and employers globally.
Some 2,838 institutions were evaluated and 689 ranked with at least one subject in the top 200.
Professor Andersson said: "NTU's global reputation as one of the world's biggest engineering universities which produces top-quality graduates is validated again in the high rankings of its engineering subjects."
NTU had three subjects - its highest number - in the top 10. It was eighth for material science and 10th for electrical and electronic engineering. Last year, it had only one subject, civil and structural engineering, which came in eighth.