Three Hong Kong universities have placed in the top 10 of a closely watched ranking of Asia’s best tertiary institutions, with Polytechnic University coming not far behind at number 15. In the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2022 released on Wednesday, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) held onto its No 4 spot for a fourth consecutive year, while Chinese University came seventh, the same as last year. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology dropped one spot to ninth, switching places with Seoul National University, which rose to eighth. City University remained in the top 50, coming in 24th, a drop of five spots from 2021, while Baptist University ranked 91st, sliding from 62nd last time. Mainland China kept its lead in the Asia rankings. Tsinghua and Peking universities took the top two spots for a third consecutive year. The mainland was home to 30 institutions in the top 100, with 22 either rising or staying at the same spot. The ranking for National University of Singapore remained unchanged at third. Other universities that made it into the top 10 included Nanyang Technological University, coming in fifth, University of Tokyo, coming in sixth, and Fudan University, at 10th. In response to the results, a spokesman for HKU said: “The University of Hong Kong will continue to strive to provide quality education for students and to achieve excellence and innovation in teaching and learning, research and knowledge exchange. “We firmly believe that the work we are undertaking to achieve the aims outlined in our vision document with the commitment to being Asia’s global university will enhance our international reputation.” Renowned neuroscientist Nancy Ip set to become HKUST’s next president The release of the new league table came as concerns over shrinking academic freedom grew in Hong Kong amid the perceived tightening of control by Beijing over education. A recent decision by Chinese University to renew the term of Professor Rocky Tuan Sung-chi as president drew fierce criticism from the pro-Beijing camp, with former chief executive Leung Chun-ying complaining it amounted to rewarding Tuan for his actions during the 2019 social unrest when he showed sympathy towards the protesters. The rankings cover 616 universities in 31 countries and regions. Institutions are judged on five areas: learning environment, volume of research, research influence, international outlook and knowledge transfer. The country with the most universities listed was Japan, with 118, up from 116 last year. Overall, 97 mainland universities were ranked, up from 91 last year. India had 71 institutions, up from 63.