SINGAPORE - The National University of Singapore retained its position as the world's 25th best university and third in Asia, according to the Times Higher Education rankings released on Wednesday (Sept 2).
Tsinghua University, Asia's top university, became the first university in the region to break into the global top 20 when it was ranked by the higher education publication in 20th place.
Peking University, ranked second in Asia, was placed in the 23rd position globally.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) moved up one place to the 47th position this year.
Times Higher Education had assessed universities on 13 performance indicators grouped into five areas: teaching (the learning environment); research (volume, income and reputation); citations (research influence); international outlook (staff, students and research); and industry income (knowledge transfer).
Britain's University of Oxford retained its top spot for the fifth consecutive year.
It was followed by four universities in the United States - Stanford, Harvard, the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Commenting on Tsinghua University's rise, Times Higher Education said the institution's achievement is an indicator of the wider positive movements in higher education for mainland China, and the rest of Asia in recent years.
Since last year, mainland China had doubled its representation in the top 100 league table, with six universities on the list. In total, there are 16 Asian universities in the top 100.
Mr Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at the publication, said the trend of universities in Asia doing better is likely to accelerate further.
He added that the coronavirus pandemic heralds a huge challenges for primarily western universities, particularly those in the US and Britain, "who face the very real risk of losing significant international student talent, and the billions of dollars in fees that they bring".
"While the universities at the very top of the table, with long histories of success and prestige, will prove hard to unseat, these factors, combined with the effects of a possible deep and long-lasting global recession and its likely impact on university funding levels, could herald the start a dramatic re-balancing of the global knowledge economy," he said.
NUS said it was heartened to be ranked among the leading universities in the world and Asia.
It added that now more than ever, universities play a critical role as a conduit for learning and innovation - to equip students, industries and countries for a post-coronavirus world.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the university has been working on Covid-19-related research, ranging from rapid diagnostics, vaccine development and accelerating digitalisation efforts to create a multi-modal blended learning environment for its students.
NTU said the Times Higher Education ranking is yet another indicator of its continued upward trajectory in all the major global indices.
This year's ranking analysed over 86 million citations across more than 13.6 million research publications and included survey responses from 22,000 scholars globally.
Times Higher Education, along with London-based education consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds, have continued publishing their league tables, despite higher education being disrupted by the pandemic and looming uncertainty over campuses reopening.
Educators and university administrators had argued to halt rankings, saying it is not a time for institutions to chase such matters but to support struggling students and academics.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.