Ruth’s Rankings News Flash! 2019-2: updates of THE Asia, U21 National University Systems and the new THE Asia Awards

  • What is the best university in Asia?  Tsinghua or National University of Singapore?
  • For what did Kirkuk University (Iraq) win an award?
  • How many Asian national university systems are in the top 10 world systems?


THE Asia University Rankings

(5 May 2019) Readers of News Flash 2019-1 will not be surprised by Tsinghua University’s number one ranking in Asia.  It was first in the Asia-Pacific rankings released two months ago and first in “newly released” rankings.  National University of Singapore (NUS) came in second. This year THE released the all-Asia ranking on May 1st to coincide with their inaugural Asia University Summit. The order of the east Asian universities is the same as in the Asia/Pac rankings.  In the Asia rankings, the “PAC” (Australia and New Zealand) is replaced by southern and eastern Asia.  Table 1 (in pdf) lists the tops in the Asia ranking and their ranking in the 2019 World Rankings.  China and Korea have seven universities in the top 25, followed by Hong Kong with five, Japan and Singapore with two and Taiwan and Saudi Arabia one each. Hong Kong leads the top ten with three universities.  The universities in the Asia ranking are the same as those in the 2019 World Rankings with slight differences in the order.

THE Awards Asia 2019

An inaugural Asia awards ceremony was part of the inaugural Summit.  An awards event has been part of THE’s UK summit and THE calls the ceremony the “Oscars of Higher education”. Over 80 institutions from 21 Asian countries were nominated for one of five awards.  30 institutions from 13 countries were shortlisted.  And the winners are:

  • Leadership and Management Team of the Year:  National University of Singapore
  • International Strategy of the Year:  Zhejiang University – Global ZJU Create to impact
  • Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year:  Yonsei University – set up a new curriculum for digital literacy education
  • Outstanding Support for Students – University of Kirkuk – throughout the war with ISIS the University opened its doors to Iraqi students whose studies had been interrupted in their home provinces
  • Technological Innovation of the Year – Asian Institute of Management (Philippines) – Click here for a video of the project ACCeSs@AIM


U21 Ranking of National Higher Educational Systems 2019

The first rankings were in 2012 with 48 countries.  Countries were selected based on the National Science Foundation list of the top 50 in research output plus Hong Kong and Indonesia, a G20 country, based on data availability. By 2014 Saudi Arabia and Serbia joined the list. We began tracking U21 Systems with the 2015 ranking. There has been little change in the rankings at the top. Nine of the top 2012 ten are still the top ten and all of the 2015 top ten are top ten in 2019.  The U.S. remains number one overall.  Six of the top ten countries are European.  The rest are from Canada, Singapore and Australia.  Only India and Indonesia from the 2012 list are still in the bottom five.  China, going from 39 to 27 and South Africa going from 46 to 34 show the biggest gains over the eight years of rankings.

There are four categories and 25 attributes. Download the full 2019 report for information about the categories, all the attributes, and the methodology.  U21 changed its research output methodology this year switching from Scopus data to Clarivate Analytics’ Incites data.

See Table 2 (in pdf) for these comparisons:

  • The overall top ten systems plus Asian systems rankings for 2012, 2015, and 2019
  • Scores for 2015 and 2019
  • Outputs (40%) for 2015 and 2019

Highlights from the other three categories, including number on system plus regional systems that are ranked higher or lower in these categories than there over rankings:

  • Resources (20%):  Switzerland (1); Higher – Singapore (3), Malaysia (17), and India (40); Lower – China (42)
  • Environment (20%):  U.S. (1); Asia-Pacfic leaders – Australia (2), New Zealand (3), Hong Kong (4), Singapore (7), Malaysia (9), Taiwan (11), China (16)
  • Connectivity (20%):  Switzerland (1); Australia (2), Singapore (6)
  • Recalibrated rankings for economic development:  The top five include UK, Finland, Serbia, South Africa and Denmark.  The U.S. is 17th followed by China and India, while Singapore drops to 23.  (See Below for the U21 2019 table of the rankings recalibrated for economic development)


(Link to the raw data here, and all archived reports are here)

Three bibliometric attributes, from Clarivate Analytics and two university rankings from ARWU (Academic Rankings of World Universities) are weighted at 28% of the Output’s 40% total.  Fifteen of the fifty countries are in the top five of at least one of these attributes. The U.S. and Switzerland are number one in a bibliometric and rankings attribute and Denmark is number one in a bibliometric attribute. Four Asia-Pacific countries are represented in the list. See Table 3 below for the top five systems for each of the five attributes.  Number in red represent the top in each category and those in blue are the lowest for these set of systems.


Download scores and rankings for all the attributes by clicking here. All of the reports are available.

The Awards ceremony categories and the university system ranking attributes highlight a growing trend. Universities are moving beyond rankings and bibliometrics to become more relevant for the 21st century. We will see more of this when we analyze THE’s Impact rankings.


Ruth’s Rankings News Flash! is written by Ruth A. Pagell, emeritus faculty librarian at Emory University.  After working at Emory, she was the founding librarian of the Li Ka Shing Library at Singapore Management University and then adjunct faculty [teaching] in the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Hawaii.  She has written and spoken extensively on various aspects of librarianship, including contributing articles to ACCESS –