NUS ranked Asia's top university for 5th year running

SINGAPORE - The National University of Singapore (NUS) has been named Asia's best university in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) annual higher education ranking, while Nanyang Technological University (NTU) slipped several notches.

In the ranking released on Thursday (June 9), NUS came in 11th globally, retaining its place from last year, while NTU took 19th place, down from 12th last year.

NUS has held the top position among Asian universities for the past five years in the Britain-based higher education analysis firm's rankings. It comes ahead of varsities like University of Pennsylvania, The University of Edinburgh, Princeton University and Yale University.

Meanwhile, NTU lost its spot as 2nd best university in Asia to China's Peking University.

This year's QS table is the largest with 1,418 universities included, up from 1,300 last year. Globally, the top 10 continued to be dominated by American and British universities.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States topped the list, while the University of Cambridge in Britain came in second. Stanford University and Harvard University in the US, and Oxford University in Britain, rounded up the top five on the list.

Same as last year, the only university in the top 10 outside the US and Britain was the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, which came in ninth place.

QS evaluated the institutions on six indicators: academic reputation, reputation among employers, citations per faculty member, faculty to student ratio, ratio of international faculty members and ratio of international students.

The results are based on 16.4 million academic papers published between 2016 and 2020 and 117.8 million citations received by those papers. They also account for the opinions of over 151,000 academic faculty and over 99,000 employers.

This year, two additional factors were also considered: employment outcomes and international research network, which measures the extent and volume of global collaboration.

In a statement on Thursday, QS said that competition is "very tight" among the world's top 20 universities.

"Although NTU's overall score dropped just 2.4 points (from 90.8 to 88.4), even a minor change can make a substantive difference at the top of the table," it said.

Some of the factors that contributed to NTU's drop were citations per faculty, employer reputation, and faculty to student ratio.

Still, QS senior vice-president Ben Sowter said in the statement NTU has been among the top 20 globally for seven consecutive years, and moved up from a decade ago when it was ranked 58th. This is an achievement for an institution that was founded as recently as 1991, he said.

Mr Sowter said that Singapore's top two universities remain the "finest higher education hub" outside Europe and the US.

"Very few universities have done more to attract top international faculty from across the world than NUS and NTU. Their elevated levels of research impact directly result from this global outlook," he added.

"Singapore is a successful knowledge powerhouse that continues to punch well above its weight," he said.

Interdisciplinary research and boosting graduates' employability and job readiness, alongside weaving innovation and entrepreneurship into their learning experience, are some of the aspects that NUS and NTU excel in, said Mr Sowter.

An NUS spokesman said: "We are pleased that NUS is consistently regarded as among the world's - and Asia's - best universities. This is an affirmation of the steadfast dedication of our talented community and a strong recognition of our future-focused approach to education and research.

"The university remains committed to nurturing agile and resilient graduates through our interdisciplinary, experiential and lifelong learning initiatives, while developing a solid core of researchers with diverse capabilities to deepen the translational impact of our research. We aim to continually transform lives and create a positive impact that will be beneficial to Singapore and society at large."

An NTU spokesman said it was one of the world's leading universities, as shown by the latest QS ranking, as well as others such as Times Higher Education, Nature Index and US News and World Report, where it maintained or improved its standing in the global top 50 in the last few years.

"As fluctuations are expected in all rankings, the university assesses its performance across different rankings and over a multiple-year time horizon, rather than focus on a single indicator in a specific year," she said.

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