Singapore's two main universities are continuing their march up the global league tables.
In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings released today, the National University of Singapore (NUS) edged up one spot to 25th, after climbing from 29th to 26th last year.
It held on to its position as the second-best in Asia, after Tokyo University. Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which moved up 10 rungs last year, jumped another 15 places this year to 61st.
NTU was also ranked joint first in the world for industry income and innovation, sharing the accolade with a dozen other universities. This is measured by how much research income from industry a university was able to attract in the past year.
Mr Phil Baty, editor of the World University Rankings, said: "Singapore continues to be a stand-out example of excellence in global rankings. NUS has continued its steady progress up the tables year after year to now reach the global top 25, while NTU continues one of the most spectacular rises of any university in the history of the rankings."
He noted NUS' progress from 40th place in 2011 to reach the world's top 25, adding: "The university clearly benefits from a highly potent mix of strong government financial backing, powerful global strategic alliances, a truly international outlook and a dynamic leadership. It is truly a university that stands out as a leading example to others."
He noted the strong upward movement of East Asian universities with 24 appearing in the top 200 - four more than last year.
Western universities are losing ground, with many starved of vital public funding.
Mr Baty said: "There is little doubt that key East Asian nations have emerged as powerhouses in global higher education and research. Traditional leaders including Britain, Canada and the US risk losing significant ground."
Like last year, American universities dominate the rankings, taking seven of the top 10 places.
The California Institute of Technology retained its top placing with Harvard in second, Oxford (Britain) in third, Stanford, fourth and the University of Cambridge (Britain) moving up two places to fifth.
The Times ranking, considered one of the more comprehensive university rankings, uses 13 indicators to examine a university's strengths - including research, knowledge transfer, international outlook and, uniquely among global rankings, the teaching environment.
NTU president Bertil Andersson said the latest placing is another milestone for NTU, which has climbed several rankings.
"By continuing to attract the best and brightest professors and students from Singapore and around the world, I expect that NTU will break into Times Higher's top 50 universities in a few years' time," he said.
He cited NTU's higher research output as the main reason for its big jumps in the league tables, and added: "NTU has been aggressively ramping up on research since 2007 and the fruits of these efforts are beginning to pay off.
"We have improved both in the volume and quality of our research. This is evident in the big leaps we made in the Nature Publishing Index and from research data aggregated by Thomson Reuters and Elsevier, which are used by Times Higher and QS respectively in their rankings."
NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan said his university's consistently strong performance is an affirmation of its top quality education and research.
He added: "This is also the result of the strong commitment to excellence by our faculty, staff and students."
Faring well in other global rankings
THE National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have moved up two other global rankings in the last six weeks.
In August's Shanghai Jiaotong Academic Ranking of World Universities, NUS jumped 23 places to 111th while NTU rose 79 places to 190th.
Both also fared well in rankings for subject fields. In engineering/technology and computer sciences, NTU moved up from 47th place last year to 12th. NUS, which was in the 51-to-75 band last year, moved up to 16th.
The annual rankings are skewed towards research-intensive universities and older institutions but preferred by many academics because of their use of objective criteria.
Researchers evaluated over 1,000 schools and took into account major awards - such as Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals - won by alumni and staff. They also included the number of researchers widely cited in their fields and the number of academic publications. A school's performance is weighted according to its size.
Harvard University remained No. 1 in the world for the 12th year. In Asia, the two most highly ranked universities were from Japan - University of Tokyo, in 21st place, and Kyoto University in 26th.
Launched in 2003, the Shanghai rankings were the first global league tables for universities.
Meanwhile, in the 10th ranking by London education consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) released on Sept 16, NUS moved up to 22nd, and remained the top Asian university, while NTU moved up from 41st to 39th place.
Institutions are ranked based on academic and employer reputation, student-faculty ratio, citations in academic publications per faculty, international faculty and student mix.
Academics rate institutions in their fields of specialisation.
This year's rankings took into account the opinions of more than 63,000 academics and almost 29.000 employers.
Overall, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology maintained its top spot, followed by Britain's University of Cambridge.
NTU also topped the QS "Young universities" rankings - for those under 50 years old - after finishing behind Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for the previous two years.