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Currently, Asia is represented by some 57 universities in the top 400 World University Rankings, published every October by Times Higher Education (THE). In order to meet ever growing interest in rankings in Asia and demand for more information about the Asian academic landscape, THE released for the first time in April 2013 a dedicated Asia rankings list, documenting on the top 100 universities in the region.
Overall, Japan has 22 institutions in the top 100, the University of Tokyo coming in first, making it the undisputed leader. But looking at the rest of the rankings, Japan might well be resting on its 25 year head-start, as China’s and Korea’s investment in higher education and push for internationalisation strategies is increasingly growing. Next to Japan’s 22 institutions, China and Taiwan also have strong showings, with 15 and 17 institutions respectively. Korea comes next, with 14 universities, alongside Hong Kong’s six, all of them in the top 50, a strong performance for such a small territory. To the general surprise and despite its booming economy, India has only three institutions in the top 100, making it the one stand-out country.
What strikes when looking at these top 100, is the diversity amongst the countries fighting for the first places. There are as many as five different countries in the top 10 (Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Korea), whereas the THE World University Rankings have only two: the US and the UK. The methodology used in the Asia University Rankings is the same as the one used in the World University Rankings, very specifically looking at world-class research-oriented universities. The Asia edition covers a large region, all the way from Turkey to Japan, based on the UN definition of Asia. Although the covered region was purposefully kept broad to look at a global model of excellence that is emerging in Asia, it might be tricky to compare countries like Malaysia, Turkey and Japan. Therefore, a change of methodology might be considered should the rankings be narrowed down to specific regions, like the Middle East of South East Asia.