City University has edged up one spot to 17th on the annual global list of young universities - but it might have done better had it been allowed public funding to launch a vet school.
The "slightly more constrained funding environment" of Hong Kong posed a challenge for its universities to compete with other top institutions worldwide, the education journalist behind the rankings said.
"Any constraints on institutions' missions or the pursuits of their goals would always be potentially negative," said Phil Baty, editor of the World University Rankings produced by the London-based Times Higher Education magazine.
The 30-year-old CityU was placed 18th last year on the Times Higher Education 100 under 50 list, now into its third year of compiling the top 100 institutions founded within the past 50 years.
The university's plan to launch Hong Kong's first government-funded veterinarian school was rejected in January for the second time.
CityU has vowed to go ahead with its launch of postgraduate vet courses in September that will see students shoulder the full tuition fees. The undergraduate programme is on hold.
Two other local institutions keeping their presence on the list, released today, are the 23-year-old University of Science and Technology - holding on to fourth place - and 20-year-old Polytechnic University, up from 34th to 30th.
Chinese University, at 51 years old, dropped out from the rankings because of its age. It came 12th last year.
Bagging the top spot for the third year is South Korea's Pohang University of Science and Technology.
The second and third places are retained, respectively, by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
The list features universities from 29 countries and regions - with India represented for the first time.