SINGAPORE - The National University of Singapore (NUS) has overtaken University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) to be named Asia's number one institution for the first time, in the latest QS University Rankings: Asia.
The rankings, which provides an overview of the region's higher education and covers the top 300 institutions, was released today by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
It ranks Asia's top universities based on criteria such as academic and employer reputation, student/faculty ratio, papers per faculty, citations per paper, internationalisation, student exchange inbound and student exchange outbound.
NUS placed 10th when the QS rankings were first compiled in 2009 and tied with HKU in second place last year.
NUS is the only institution to make the top 20 in eight of the nine indicators used to compile the rankings. It was rated number one in Asia by a survey of over 8,000 graduate employers, and also makes the top five for academic reputation and research citations.
Nanyang Technological University also rose three places to the seventh spot - its highest ever position.
NTU scored the maximum 100 points in four areas - for its reputation among employers, its highly diverse international faculty, its cosmopolitan student population and for overseas exchanges.
NTU scored 99.9 points for academic reputation, with three other indicators - inbound exchanges, citations per paper and faculty-student ratio - scoring 94 points and above.
NTU made the biggest improvements in its citations per paper and student-faculty ratio. The university jumped by 25 places for its citations per paper to advance from 50th to 25th in the region. NTU also went up 21 places in student-faculty ratio to rank 32nd among Asia's universities.
Korea's KAIST rose four places to second, ahead of University of Hong Kong (HKU), which dropped one place to third.
Last year's number one institution, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), fell to 5th - making this the first time a Hong Kong institution has failed to top the table.
"These rankings confirm the emergence of Singapore and Korea as the new major players within the region, denting the dominance of Hong Kong and Japan," said Ben Sowter Sowter, Head of Research at QS, QS Intelligence Unit. "Both NUS and NTU have benefitted from major government investment in research; while operating in English has helped them attain new levels of global engagement."
NUS and NTU are currently benefitting from a $16.1 billion government scheme to improve their performance in science, technology and innovation, while Korea now spends 3.6 per cent of its GDP on research and development, among the highest in the OECD.
Like Korea, China saw 13 of its top 20 institutions rise this year, though Peking University dropped three places to 8th, while Tsinghua remained 14th. In contrast, 13 of Japan's top 20 universities rank lower than last year, with University of Tokyo dropping to its lowest ever position of 10th.
"The after-effects of the financial crisis have made it harder for Japan to keep up with the improvements made by Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and China," Sowter said.