By Arabia Higher Ed Editorial Team
Times Higher Education (THE) released on February 7 its 2018 Asia University Rankings, and were led by the National University of Singapore which claimed the first position for the third year in a row.
China’s Tsinghua University claimed the second place, swapping positions with its Beijing rival Peking University, who came in third this year. Three institutions from Hong Kong, two from South Korea and one each from Singapore and Japan claimed the rest of the top 10.
China surged this year as the overall average score of the country’s institutions has climbed by more than 2.5 points since last year, with about half this change a result of the increased citation impact of its scholarship.
The Asia rankings this year are dominated by Japan who claimed 89 universities in the top 359 Asian universities, followed by China with 63 and India with 42.
The rankings feature the same seven Arab countries from last year, that is, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The top position in the Arab region was claimed by King Abdulaziz University who claimed the 23rd position in the rankings.
Khalifa University and Qatar University unseated King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and King Saud University by claiming the second and third positions respectively. Khalifa University improved its Asia rankings from 76 to 32 in Asia while Qatar University 77th position to the 52nd.
Khalifa's rise in the rankings came in after the successful merger between three Abu Dhabi higher education institutions last year: Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the Petroleum Institute and Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (Kustar). Last year, KUSTAR was ranked at the 76th position, and neither Masdar nor the Petroleum Institute were listed in 2017 Asia rankings.
Lebanon had a poor showing this year where the American University of Beirut was the sole representative who improved its rankings from 85 to 75.
Academic excellence in Asia correlates with the country income and the availability of higher education. According to THE, wealthier countries tend to perform better in the rankings; the higher a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the higher the average score of its institutions in the ranking. However, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar from the Arab region underperform compared with what one would expect based solely on their wealth.
The latest edition was further to include 359 universities, up from 300 last year. All universities in the top 200 are also given a distinct rank (previously those between 100th and 200th were listed in bands) to provide greater transparency of the results.
The Asia University Rankings employ the same 13 performance indicators as the THE World University Rankings. The score is based on subjective measures (25%) as well as objective measures (75%). The indicators are grouped into five areas: teaching (25%), international outlook (7.5%), industry income and innovation (7.5%), research (30%), and citations (30%).