SINGAPORE - Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which leaped three rungs to take the No. 2 spot in the world's best young universities ranking last year, has fallen back to the third place this year.
In the Times Higher Education's latest ranking released on Wednesday night, Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne retained its top spot in the list of world's best 200 young universities, followed by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
South Korea's Pohang University of Science and Technology is placed fourth and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology rounds out the top five.
The Top 200 list compares universities under 50 years old, based on research, teaching, citations, international outlook and industry income, giving lower weightage to academic reputation to reflect the special features of younger universities.
Mr Phil Baty, editor of the Times ranking called NTU "a world-class performer" and noted that despite an improved overall score this year, it scored lower for its research environment and industry income, resulting in it dropping from second place in the table.
Top 5 young universities
1. Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland (1)
2. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (3)
3. Nanyang Technological University (2)
4. Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea (5).
5. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (6).
Ranking in brackets refers to last year’s placings.
Source: The Times Higher Education 200 Under 50 Rankings 2017
But he said the university has a promising future considering it is just 26 years old and praised Singapore for introducing powerful policy drives, backed with serious funding, to produce world-class universities.
"The city-state now spends 2.2 per cent of its GDP on research and development, up from 1.8 in 2000 - more than China and the UK," he said.
NTU president Bertil Andersson agreed that regional rivals such as the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology are stepping up the competition, adding that the competing universities have a lot of mutual respect for each other.
He said: "Only seven countries made it into the global top 10 and Singapore is one of them - represented by NTU.
"NTU has consistently earned our place in these and many other rankings in recent years. These latest results reaffirm NTU's globally acknowledged strengths in teaching, research and working with our international partners and the industry."
Last September in a similar ranking by education specialist Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), NTU trumped the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to secure the top spot for the third year running.
Times Higher Education and QS use different ranking methodologies, but both aim to identify young universities tipped to be the rising stars of higher education.
Singapore Management University is not included in the rankings because it is considered a specialised university, while the National University of Singapore - founded in 1906 - does not qualify for this ranking.
Professor Andersson noted that Asia's science and technology-focused universities have continued to dominate the Times Higher's Under 50 Rankings.
He said: "Asia's young and dynamic science and tech-focused universities are racing with their North American and European counterparts to become research powerhouses of the future. With continued investment and support, the future is bright for Asia's up-and-coming universities."