CUHK and PolyU rise in 2022 rankings, while HKU kept its spot and others drop

  • Chinese University moved up four spots to 39th and Polytechnic University up nine to 66th, in the World University Rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds
  • This comes amidst the national security law and 2019 protests, which has prompted questions about the autonomy of the city’s higher education sector
South China Morning Post |

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While HKU remains the city's top-ranked university, CUHK and PolyU made strides in this year's rankings.

Four Hong Kong universities have dropped in the latest worldwide rankings with only Chinese ­University (CUHK) and ­Polytechnic University (PolyU) rising in the league table, but ­researchers said the city’s higher education remained in “rather good health”.

CUHK moved up four places to 39th among 1,300 higher ­education institutions worldwide assessed in the Britain-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2022, which were released today. PolyU rose nine places to 66th. In the 2021 rankings, the pair ranked 43rd and 75th, respectively.

Both campuses suffered ­severe damage to facilities in clashes between protesters and police at the height of the 2019 anti-government protests, but QS researchers said it was hard to ­determine if the incidents affected their ­performances.

How did Hong Kong unis do in The Times Higher Education survey last year?

Researchers said they did not see “evidence that Hong Kong’s universities are systemically suffering” yet despite the Beijing-imposed national security law coming into effect last June.

The University of Hong Kong (HKU), the top-ranked university in the city, remained 22nd globally, followed by the University of Science and Technology (HKUST) which dropped seven places to 34th.

City University slipped five places to 53rd, while Baptist University suffered the biggest drop of 23 places from 264th to 287th. Lingnan University, meanwhile, also fell from being ranked 571-580 to 581-590.

How do they decide the rankings?

Six indicators were used to compile the annual league table: academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty, student to faculty ratio, as well as international faculty and student ratios.

According to the ranking body, the four universities which fell in rankings dropped in two to six indicators, while the rise for CUHK and PolyU was reflected by an improvement in performances such as in research impact and employers’ recognition.

Amidst the national security law and protests, ‘no evidence’ HK unis are suffering

The rankings’ release came at a time when the city’s academic field faces rapid changes following the introduction of the sweeping national security law, which targets acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

Universities are required to promote national security education and were recently reminded by their funding body of the need to do so, while CUHK and HKU distanced themselves from their student unions this year over concerns related to the legislation.

Opinion: Despite their problems, student unions are necessary

Critics have expressed concerns over shrinking autonomy at higher education institutions under the law, but these have been dismissed by senior managers, with the heads of five universities signing a joint statement last June in support of the law.

“There is no evidence that Hong Kong’s universities are systemically suffering from any particular issue at the moment,” said a QS spokeswoman when asked about the impact of the security legislation and the 2019 protests on the latest rankings. “We believe that the latest results show that Hong Kong’s higher education sector remains in rather good health, relatively speaking.”

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The data collection period from universities was only up to last year, the spokeswoman said, while the annual academic and employer reputation surveys were conducted between February and April this year and would be looked at also based on previous years’ results.

CUHK and PolyU said they would “continue to strive for excellence” in areas such as ­teaching and research, while ­Baptist and HKUST said they would make reference to the ranking for improvements.

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