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Asian uni breaks top 20 in THE Rankings

Times Higher Education has released its World University Rankings 2021, with Tsinghua University in Beijing becoming the first Asian institute to ever break the top 20. An additional 15 other Asian universities also made the top 100.

THEOxford vice-chancellor Louise Richardson said she was "delighted" by Oxford's position. Photo: Pixabay

A record 15 Asian universities made the top 100

The University of Oxford took the top spot for the fifth year in a row, followed by Stanford, Harvard, Caltech and MIT.

UK and US institutions took all of the top ten spots, with ETH Zurich being the first non-US or UK entrant at 14th.

However, Imperial College London slipping to 11th caused the UK to lose a top 10 place for the first time in 10 years, while Cambridge hit its lowest position since 2014. The US claimed eight of the top 10 positions, but THE noted that “US institutions outside the top 200 show signs of decline”.

“For several years we have been observing a slow shift in global higher education as Asian universities have climbed at the expense of their western counterparts,” said Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer at THE.

“The coronavirus pandemic heralds a perfect storm of huge challenges for primarily western universities”

“This trend is likely to accelerate further as the coronavirus pandemic heralds a perfect storm of huge challenges for primarily western universities, particularly those in the UK who, along with the US, face the very real risk of losing significant international student talent, and the huge amount of income that they bring,” he continued.

“In the longer term, possibly permanent shifts in the global flow of academic talent that has traditionally fuelled the elite institutions of the US and UK could create real challenges.”

A similar trend was also seen in the QS rankings released earlier this year.

In terms of international outlook – numbers of international staff and students, as well as international collaboration – Macau University of Science and Technology ranked highest, where 84% of students are international. with half of the universities in the top ten for this metric based in Hong Kong and Macau.

This year’s rankings include over 1,500 universities from 93 countries and regions who are assessed across teaching, research, citations, international outlook, and industry income performance indicators.

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