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NUS, NTU leapfrog Yale, Cornell in university rankings

SINGAPORE — The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have leapfrogged the annual Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, moving ahead of renowned institutions such as Yale, Johns Hopkins, Cornell and King’s College London.

NUS, NTU leapfrog Yale, Cornell in university rankings

Nanyang Technology University and National University of Singapore. TODAY and Channel NewsAsia file photos

SINGAPORE — The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have leapfrogged the annual Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, moving ahead of renowned institutions such as Yale, Johns Hopkins, Cornell and King’s College London.

NUS maintained its position as Asia’s top university, climbing from 22nd place last year to 12th place this year, while NTU moved from 39th place to 13th place, according to the QS ranking released today. Massachusetts Institute of Technology maintained its position at the top of the table, while Harvard University moved up from fourth to second place. University of Cambridge and Stanford University were jointly ranked third.

NUS President, Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, said: “Our consistent performance in international rankings is a reflection of Singapore’s strong support for higher education, as well as NUS’ strong focus on talent and excellence.”

NTU President, Professor Bertil Andersson, said: “Young Singaporeans can be very proud that they have two universities of international repute to choose from to get top-quality education right at home.”

QS ranked 891 universities based on academic and employer reputations, student-to-faculty ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio and international student ratio.

According to QS, the biggest change in its methodology for this year’s rankings is the introduction of a new measurement for research excellence, known as normalisation.

It works by weighting the citations from each of the faculty areas — engineering and technology, natural sciences, social sciences and management, arts and humanities, and life sciences and medicine — at 20 per cent of the total citations submitted by each university. This total than makes up the final 20 per cent of each institution’s possible score.

The change is meant to reflect the influence achieved by each university in the research world, relative to the size of its faculty. For example, in the United Kingdom, the arts and humanities make up nearly 30 per cent of students but only 1 per cent of citations because of their very different publishing culture. On the other hand, medical sciences, which has only 14 per cent of university students, account for 49 per cent of citations, QS noted.

NTU’s Prof Andersson said: “The old way of measuring citation disfavoured technological universities and favoured those with medical schools, as citations in engineering are typically lower than that in medicine.

“...By adopting normalised citation, it levels the playing field for all universities as it averages the citations in each field, so fair comparisons can be made.”

Mr Ben Sowter, QS’ head of research, said the change in methodology gives NUS an advantage, as the university has a more balanced research approach that has led to “a research profile that is not disproportionately geared towards medicine”. He added that even without the change, NTU would still have risen by more than 10 places from last year.

Both NUS and NTU showed improvements in all five subject areas, with both universities ranked within the top 10 in engineering and technology.

Mr Sowter said he was impressed with the growth of Singapore’s universities in such a short period of time. “What Singapore, as a nation, has achieved in its first 50 years of independence is nothing short of staggering. The engine room for that development has been and remains the cultural, political and financial emphasis placed on education at all levels.”

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