University rankings

Top of the class! Hong Kong University of Science and Technology rated city's number one in latest world rankings

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2015, 7:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2015, 6:23pm

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has ranked top among the city’s tertiary institutions, according to the latest QS World University Rankings.

HKUST, which jumped from 40th last year to 28th this year, beat the University of Hong Kong, at 30th this time, to become the top institution in the city. They were the only two local universities that made the top 50.

The city is on a par with its regional rivals – Singapore, Japan and South Korea – which also have two top-50 institutions.

READ MORE: University of Hong Kong falls out of world's top 50 list in reputation survey 

The QS World University Rankings, which have been setting league tables for universities worldwide since 2005, assess institutions through six criteria: academic reputation, employer reputation, student-to-faculty ratio, citations per faculty, international student ratio and international faculty ratio.

Chinese University, which was 46th last year, was pushed out of the top 50 this time, coming in at 51st. However, it shares a top-50 slot with HKU for academic reputation.

QS head of research Ben Sowter said the drop for the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University was due to a change in the way that citations per faculty were evaluated. There used to be a historical bias towards life sciences and medicine.

“Since CUHK and HKU both have medical schools, their results are slightly weaker than they would have been under our previous approach,” Sowter told the South China Morning Post. “The strengths of other Hong Kong institutions in engineering, technology and social sciences has been more equitably recognised.”

The adjustment was seen to give a fairer evaluation to universities with a strong profile in areas producing less research, such as the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Both HKU and CUHK had gained ground for attracting academics from other places and remained within the top 0.25 per cent of world universities, he added.

Sowter said that Hong Kong had a lot of strengths in tertiary education, including geographic location at the heart of Asia, a highly international environment with a history of publishing in English and a capability to operate effectively across disciplines.

HKUST said it was “very pleased” with the improved rankings, which it felt could always be improved.

An HKU spokesperson said the latest rankings would serve as a “general reference for the university”, and different university ranking systems should be viewed with a degree of ambivalence as ranking criteria and methodologies may vary and be revised from time to time.

Chinese University noted that various league tables used different evaluation criteria and parameters, and thus produced different rankings. It said it continued to strive for excellence in teaching and research.