NUS now 23rd in league table of world's best: Britain's Times Higher Education magazine
By Sandra Davie, The Straits Times, 16 Mar 2012
SINGAPORE'S two main universities have climbed a prestigious league table, in a sign of their growing reputations among academics.
Britain's Times Higher Education magazine ranked the National University of Singapore 23rd best in the world, up from 27th last year.
Nanyang Technological University, which was placed in the 91st to 100th band last year, has moved up to the next highest group - 81st to 90th.
The magazine compiled its World Reputation Ranking by asking 17,554 experienced academics in 137 countries to rate universities in two areas: research and teaching. Each institution's rank was based on the number of times it was nominated as 'the best' in its field. Research was given twice as much weight as teaching when it came to working out the final score.
Harvard University topped the list, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley and Oxford. Singapore Management University, which specialises in business, was not included in the exercise.
National University of Singapore president Tan Chorh Chuan said: 'We are delighted to be placed among the leading universities in the world and in Asia. This is a strong endorsement of our continued efforts to pioneer educational innovations that provide a top quality education, global student exchange and internship opportunities, as well as our cutting-edge research.'
Nanyang Technological University chief Bertil Andersson said its placing was 'a commendable achievement for a young university which started pushing research in a big way only in the last few years'.
But he added that world rankings are just one indicator when choosing where to study or teach. Other factors should also be considered, such as the environment and opportunities to be mentored or receive a holistic education.
The proliferation of university league tables in recent years has made them an important marketing tool for attracting the best students and academics. But the World Reputation Ranking, which was launched last year, is different in that it measures how universities are regarded, rather than how they actually perform.
Mr Phil Baty, editor of the magazine's annual rankings, noted that institutions in the United States are still the most highly regarded, taking 44 of the top 100 places. But Asian universities are moving up the ranks, 'signalling the start of a power shift from West to East'.
He added: 'Indeed, Singapore is clearly part of a very exciting group of East Asian countries including China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, all seeing their top universities rising up the reputation table.'
Mr Baty admitted that the survey was based purely on subjective opinion, but said: 'It is educated, experienced opinion and given increased competition for students, academics and university administrators, a university's reputation for academic excellence is crucial.'
Both Singaporean institutions placed higher in the reputation tables than in the overall World University Rankings, which the magazine publishes later in the year.
In that league table, based on 13 measurements, such as how many times their academics are cited in international journals, the National University of Singapore was ranked 40th last year, while Nanyang Technological University came 169th. 'Perhaps this is a sign that academics all around the world are increasingly aware of the opportunities and exciting developments in Singapore,' said Mr Baty.
Critics have questioned the methodology used by university league tables, but even they admit that the lists have become an important source of information for the growing number of globally mobile students, researchers and academics.
Higher education experts note that in recent years, league tables have been affecting the accreditation of programmes, sponsorship decisions by donors and even funding allocation by governments.
1. Harvard University
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3. University of Cambridge
4. Stanford University
5. University of California, Berkeley
6. University of Oxford
7. Princeton University
8. University of Tokyo
9. University of California, Los Angeles
10. Yale University
11. California Institute of Technology
12. University of Michigan
13. Imperial College London
14. University of Chicago
15. Columbia University
16. Cornell University
16. University of Toronto
18. Johns Hopkins University
19. University of Pennsylvania
20. Kyoto University
21. University College London
22. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zï¿½rich
23. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
23. National University of Singapore
81-90. Nanyang Technological University
By other rankings' reckoning...
THE TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION WORLD UNIVERSITY RANKINGS 2011-2012
Universities were compared across 13 performance indicators such as research, teaching, international outlook, citations and industry income.
Evaluations were done by 17,500 academics.
QUACQUARELLI SYMONDS WORLD UNIVERSITY RANKINGS 2011/12
The ranking is based on six indicators - academic reputation, reputation among employers, student-faculty ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty and student mix.
ACADEMIC RANKING OF WORLD UNIVERSITIES 2011
NUS: In the 102nd to 150th range
NTU: Within the 201st to 300th range
This list, published by the Centre for World-Class Universities of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, has been a list preferred by academics.
It uses measures such as the number of highly cited researchers, and alumni and faculty who have won Nobel Prizes.