• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 2:01pm
NewsHong Kong

Cash-rich universities in Singapore, South Korea eclipsing Hong Kong institutions

Universities in neighbouring countries reap rewards of investment in higher education by taking the No 1 and 2 spots in Asian standings

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 May, 2014, 11:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 7:51am

Hong Kong universities have been eclipsed at the top of the Asian rankings by institutions from Singapore and South Korea, countries that have poured money into higher education.

For the first time in the QS rankings' five-year history, a Hong Kong university is not the top Asian institution for higher education. After heading the rankings for the past three years, the University of Science and Technology has slumped to fifth, supplanted by the National University of Singapore, which was equal second with the University of Hong Kong last year.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology leapt from sixth to second, while HKU slipped one place to third and the Chinese University of Hong Kong rose one place to sixth.

Singapore and Korea have been on an upward trajectory in recent years

Compilers of the rankings said strong research and technological development in Singaporean and South Korean universities had contributed to their fast development, while Hong Kong universities had weakened in their teacher-student ratio.

"Singapore and Korea have been on an upward trajectory in recent years," Ben Sowter, head of research at British-based QS University Rankings, said yesterday. "Both have channelled their current economic dynamism into ambitious higher education investment programmes."

The latest QS World University Rankings last month put HKU at 26th. In March, the city's oldest university was rated 43rd in the latest Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, down from 36th last year.

South Korea's research and development spending accounted for 3.7 per cent of gross domestic product in 2010, while Singapore spent 2.1 per cent. Hong Kong spent 0.73 per cent in 2012.

Joshua Mok Ka-ho, acting vice-president in research and development of the Institute of Education, said the city's lack of scientific and technological development was related to the overall education system, which aimed at making sure pupils passed exams instead of fostering their creativity.

He said the lack of industries here - unlike in South Korea, which has electronics giant Samsung and a car industry - had further deterred pupils from taking science and technology subjects out of career concerns.

Sowter said the switch to a four-year university system in 2009 - leading to universities admitting a double intake of secondary school graduates through both the old and new systems in 2012 - had weakened the faculty-student ratio, a performance indicator used in the rankings.

Other indicators include reputation of academics and employers, volume and citations of papers, proportion of international faculty and students, and proportion of inbound and outbound exchange students.


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This article is now closed to comments

The wrriting is on the walll. If HK does not start upgrading its investment in universities, thwre will be outflow of faculty and local and foreign students. It will be left with its ugly buildings.
hk is already **** up by not investing in its english speaking schools - kindergarten to high schools. Unless the ambitions is to become a shopping center and schooling station for the mainland, this train is heading to a disaster. Stop defending and start acting to improve.
Seems to me this ethos is going to make HK like another casino city.
Any place that has no respect for the future of its children is a dangerous place.
Wishful, defensive thinking. I only hope that you do not have much power in the education system in HK. We need fewer peeople like you.
Congratulations to HKU. It was a difficult and demoralizing time to live through horrendous public criticisms on the seating plans of a university domestic function, and the results of student misbehavior. However, you still kept your activities going and came out third. Congratulations. Maybe without all those distractions you might have done better, and kept your world-class geneticist Vice-Chancellor. I hope all those who contributed to HKU's problems then will hang their heads in shame.
An education provides a better understanding of things, analytic power, philosophy, poetry, economy etc. It's not just to get you another flat but to have an interesting and knowledgeable mind.
You obviouslly don't understand the point of his post. He is actually making exactly the same point as you are making. Oh dear, mercedes.... better go get a university education!
3 in the top 10 in a "city" of 7m people is a very impressive result particularly given the names of competitors. Those involved should be congratulated ... Resounding endorsement for the benefits of our English medium universities as well / perhaps a clue for those in charge to look somewhere other than north for our "city's" future.
Our venerable Hong Kong University has its root planted as an institute mainly to produce English speaking locals to serve in the Colonial Government. Even its recent graduates and high government positions remains intimately linked -- this is how HKU defines its success. International ranking for HKU is irrelevant.
Furthermore, my first attempt to associate HKU unsuccessfully with Hong Kong as a trading port that Hong Kong has nothing much to trade nowadays except in the financial exchange market. A high school graduate can aptly to be a successful stockbroker. Then I thought may be HKU can be a specialist in tourism. But Hong Kong just doesn’t measure up as a destination of historical value. Hong Kong’s shopkeepers don’t need help from HKU to sell goods to tourists.
Reality is that Hong Kong is a city of landlords. As one posting said that 'live in one and rent one out' of one's properties make life pretty settled. Why we really need HKU? Unless I guess you want to be a civil servant or a minister in the government. Not bad at all that a tradition is being upheld by an institution of few hundred years old.
A society in a desert is not the best place for a university to strive.
The real hope for HK is HKUST unless the administrators lose the plot.
You know for a fact that HKU existed 'to produce English speaking locals to serve in the Colonial Government'? What rubbish! Where did you get this, in the University's inception papers, in its Senate meeting minutes? HKU in its former incarnation as a College of Medicine was formed so that after the wars, HK could be served by local people well-equipped to tend to the sick and injured! Other disciplines and faculties were added gradually in later years, as the needs arose, but medicine and doctors were its first priority. Producing civil servants was probably never in any of the founding members' minds. And certainly its millions of graduates have gone to all professions, not just the Government. You are forgetting our architects, engineers, dentists, not to mention the myriad of teachers, bankers, social workers etc.
I am not commenting on your ensuing rabble, believing that to be as ill-based as your opening remarks.



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