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University challenge: Asia in the scales of global knowledge

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The Times Higher Education Supplement has published its 2018 World University Rankings.

Rankings are rankings are rankings. They are not holy writ. Still, they can be interesting fodder for drawing some interpretations and implications.

I admit I may be partly biased as Oxford has come out No. 1. (I was at Oxford from 1967 to 1970 and did my doctorate there.)

The rankings are based on five key criteria: teaching, research, citations, income from industry and international outlook.

Looking at the 1,000 institutions included, there is not surprisingly a strong dominance of English- language countries, especially in the top 200 (the United States, Britain Canada, Australia); followed by continental European countries, notably the Netherlands, that have done quite well. Still, this dominance used to be greater and is eroding.

The very interesting thing is that all the non-Western universities in the top 200 are East Asian, adding up to some 20.

Singapore does very well: National University of Singapore (22nd) and Nanyang Technological University (52nd). So does Hong Kong with five institutions: Hong Kong University (40th), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (44th), Chinese University of Hong Kong (58th), City University of Hong Kong (119th) and Hong Kong Polytechnic (182nd).


China with seven beats by more than three times the other Brics combined, Brazil none, Russia one, India none, South Africa one: Peking (27th), Tsinghua (30th), Fudan (116th), University of Science and Technology of China (132nd), Nanjing University (169th), Zhejiang University (177th) and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (188th).

Taiwan has one: National Taiwan University (198th).

If other parts of the developing world - South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America - want to develop and, especially, prepare their youth for an increasingly complex and challenging world, major efforts need to be directed at the........

© The Straits Times