Universities in Hong Kong

Hong Kong universities take a hit in latest Times Higher Education law, business and economics rankings

The city’s tertiary educational institutions slipped in a number of categories, as Times Higher Education released its university rankings for law, business and economics, education and social sciences

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2018, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2018, 10:53pm

Hong Kong universities suffered drops in the latest Times Higher Education law, and business and economics rankings, with the publisher urging the city’s institutions to improve their teaching environment and industry links.

Times Higher Education released four subject rankings on Wednesday. The standings are considered one of the most widely observed international metrics for measuring university excellence.

In the law ranking, Chinese University fell 22 places to 49th this year, while the University of Hong Kong slipped four places to 22nd. Only City University made gains, rising seven places to 45th.

According to the rankings publisher, CUHK received lower scores across the board this year, with particularly large declines in teaching and research and a significant drop in citations.

A Chinese University spokeswoman said: “Various league tables use different evaluation criteria and parameters, and as a result produce different rankings.”

“It is important for CUHK to continue to strive for excellence in teaching and research, with the commitment to education for the benefit of Hong Kong, mainland China and the region,” she added.

The National University of Singapore is Asia’s highest ranked university for law, overtaking both HKU and CUHK to come in 21st this year, up nine places from last year.

Stanford University is ranked first globally, swapping places with Duke University, which this year placed second.

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The subject rankings look at five broad areas, namely learning environment; research volume, income and reputation; citations; international outlook in terms of staff, students and research; and industry income. But the overall methodology is carefully recalibrated for each subject, with the weightings changed to suit individual fields.

For the business and economics ranking, the University of Science and Technology fell eight places to 22nd and Polytechnic University dropped one place to 40th.

HKU went up four places to 27th, while Chinese University remained the same at 52nd.

Baptist University, which has previously not made it into the top 200, is now in the 301-400 band, with rankings published for all 585 universities who met the criteria this year.

Both the National University of Singapore and Beijing’s Tsinghua University leapfrogged HKUST to rank 17th and 18th respectively.

Three Hong Kong universities in top 10 on Times Higher Education Asian rankings

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is placed first globally, swapping places with Stanford University, which is in second place this year.

The rankings publisher explained the drops suffered by Hong Kong universities were in part due to all universities in Hong Kong declining in terms of citation impact.

Moreover, several universities feature in the business ranking for the first time this year, and some near the top of the ranking, partly due to a methodological change which has relaxed the eligibility criteria for academic staff, it added.

On a brighter note, HKU maintained its fourth position for the education ranking, while CUHK went up to joint 18th from 20th last year.

HKU also climbed four places to 26th and Chinese University by three places to 48th in the social sciences ranking, but both institutions were still behind National University of Singapore and Peking University, placed 22nd and 23rd respectively.

Ellie Bothwell, editor of global rankings for Times Higher Education, said, “The results also show that mainland China – which has historically performed much better in science and technology disciplines – is fast moving up the rankings and is, in some cases, overtaking institutions in Hong Kong.”

“Hong Kong needs to focus on improving its teaching environment and industry links in business and economics and law if it wants to maintain its strong position,” she said.

But Professor Joshua Mok Ka-ho, Lingnan University’s vice-president and Lam Man Tsan chair professor of comparative policy, said there was no need to be overly concerned with the results as there were changes in the methodology in determining which ones can be included in the rankings.

“In terms of citations, even if an article is not cited a lot, that does not mean it is of inferior quality but rather that it might not be of so much of an interest to the global academic field,” he added.

But the professor acknowledged that Hong Kong universities could do better in terms of cooperating with industry, which he believed would improve with the current administration promoting measures to encourage companies to collaborate more with institutions.