- Nanyang Technological University (NTU) ranks higher than National University of Singapore (NUS) in the QS rankings and NUS ranks higher than NTU in THE rankings
- NTU ranks higher than HKUST in the QS rankings and HKUST ranks higher than NTU in THE rankings (Table 30.1 Big Three)
By Ruth A. Pagell* (Watch Ruth Pagell present University Rankings How to be Number One at HKUST, 9 November 2017)
(5 November 2017) Hong Kong and Singapore come from a background of the British education system (Soh & Ho) and both provided limited public higher education until the latter part of the 20th century. Despite their late start and the limited number of universities, Hong Kong and Singapore score highly in rankings of education systems, K-12 rankings and the higher education rankings. This article presents an overview of the two higher education systems and their university rankings.
Hong Kong has eight publicly funded autonomous universities and 12 private universities. The Education Bureau coordinates all levels of education. The University Grants Committee (UGC) is charged with evaluating research proposals and distributing research funding to those universities. The Research Grants Council (RGC) provides a variety of grants for special projects awarded on a competitive basis. Funding sources, funding opportunities, and successful projects are all listed on the Council’s website. Study Hong Kong provides a simple overview of the system.
From 1993 through 2014 Hong Kong used the UK’s Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) format. The UK has since changed its format. There was no assessment in 2017 and revisions to the process are under discussion for the coming years.
See Table 30.2 for the Hong Kong grading system, a sample entry and the list of fields and subjects used by RAE. Subjects are compared to those available from the underlying data in SciVal and InCites. Hong Kong shares the process and the results with the public and recommends that university administrators share their individual results with their constituents.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) is responsible for the framing and execution of education guidelines in Singapore. Private education institutions (PEIs) are under The Committee for Private Education Singapore (CPE). There are six publicly funded autonomous universities. MOE established Singapore Management University in 2000 as the first public autonomous university. It introduced QAFU (Quality Assessment Framework) in 2005 in concurrence with changing the funding model for NUS and NTU to autonomous status. Now all six publicly funded universities are autonomous.
Research funding is competitive and administered by the National Research Foundation. These grants are for science and technology. Over three fourths of the NRF grants have gone to NTU and NUS.
See Appendix 30.A. for more information on the government’s role in education in Hong Kong and Singapore.
HONG KONG AND SINGAPORE – COMPARATIVE COUNTRY PERFORMANCE.
Discussions of institutional rankings now incorporate rankings of countries’ educational systems. Global rankings begin before students even enter a tertiary institution. Singapore is first in science, reading and math for 15-year-olds. (Table 30.3 PISA and TIMSS). See Table 30.4 A and B for country system rankings in U21, QS and WIPO’s Index. Singapore is top 10 in all but one U21 indicator and Hong Kong is top 15. See Appendix 30.B for definitions.
HONG KONG AND SINGAPORE IN THE RANKINGS
Underlying Data: SciVal and InCites
The publication and citation data for the rankings come from either Elsevier’s Scopus and SciVal or Clarivate Analytics Web of Science or InCites. Webometrics uses Google Scholar for its citation metrics.
NUS is in the top 100 for all scholarly rankings. Ranked at 99, The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is the highest ranked Hong Kong university in the scholarly rankings. Five Hong Kong universities are in the top 100 in QS. NTU has the highest overall ranking at 11 in QS.
Table 30.5 compares the universities on the rankings that rely on scholarly metrics: ARWU NTU-TW, Leiden, Nature Index and Google Scholar. Table 30.6 compares the latest rankings in QS, THE, U.S. News Global, Scimago Institutions Rankings and Webometrics.
With the limited number of public universities and the minor role that private universities play, the composite rankings are uninteresting. Six of Hong Kong’s private universities are ranked in Webometrics. Singapore’s scholarly ranks are enhanced by partnerships with non-Singaporean universities.
QS is a favorite ranker in Singapore and Hong Kong. In trying to answer the question about the flipping of ranks in 2018 between NTU and NUS, I included three Hong Kong universities. I expanded my investigation to look at changes by year, and differences between world ranking metrics and Asian metrics. There was nothing obvious in just looking at the rankings. I highlighted scores that negatively impacted on the Hong Kong university rankings (Table 30.7).
The ratios of international faculty and students to total faculty and students help Hong Kong and Singapore universities rank higher than schools with comparable bibliometrics. Five Hong Kong and three Singapore universities scored 100 for international faculty. Only one U.S. university, MIT, is in the top 50 (QS Top Universities, 2018).
QS and THE consider students from mainland China international, and they make up 76% of all non-local students (Hong Kong education…12 Dec 2016). “International” is an ambiguous term. When it comes to international collaborations, using data from Clarivate Analytics or Elsevier, Hong Kong is considered part of mainland China.
Engineering and technology, including computer science, are the strongest areas for Hong Kong and Singapore universities, while life sciences and clinical medicine are the weakest. NUS has the broadest subject portfolio of our universities.
For rankings using total number of publications or citations, life sciences and medicine have almost 50% of all citations according to SciVal and twice as many publications as chemistry, the second highest category in InCites. Find subject rankings for Hong Kong and Singapore universities in Table 30.8. NTU is number one in the world in nanotechnology and energy sciences, according to ARWU. A pleasant surprise is that ARWU includes universities not in the overall rankings, such as Singapore Management University (SMU), in their subjects.
Hong Kong and Singapore universities perform well based on the metrics used in rankings. They appear in the top 100 of all rankings. The universities are better in QS and THE which place less emphasis on bibliometrics. They are at a disadvantage in rankings that use size dependent rankings. The threat to their status is the growth of output by mainland Chinese universities, even though quality rankings for these universities lags.
Example 30.1 CWTS Leiden rankings illustrates the difference in ranks between size-dependent metrics ,which is the total number of publications and total in top 10% and size independent metrics which are the percent in top 10%. 19 Chinese universities are now in the top 100 of the rankings for total publications. 12 Chinese universities are in the top 100 for total top 10%. Two are in the top 100 for the percent of publications in top ten percent most frequently cited in their field. The output for NTU grew over 50% while for HKUST the increase was less than 15%. Since output drives number of citations, Hong Kong’s current positions in scholarly rankings in Asia is at risk. Based on SciVal data, there are still large gaps in field weighted citations with Singapore and Hong Kong ranking 13 and 21 respectively and China at 97 out of 115 locations with at least 1,000 publications.
More important than the rankings is our monthly reminder that “universities need to move away from the obsession with rankings but take a close look at not only the overall or total score but, more importantly, the details in indicator scores from not only one system but more.“ (Soh & Ho, pg. 784).
Lanford, M. (2016). Perceptions of higher education reform in Hong Kong: A glocalization perspective. International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, 18(3) pgs 186-204. Lanford (2016) outlines the transition of the Hong Kong education system from the three -year British-based format to a four year, liberal arts format of the United States under the guidance of the University Grants Commission (UGS) http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/IJCED-04-2016-0007
DEFINITION: Glocalization, a concept related to globalization, has been commonly defined as the process by which universal products, ideas, and processes are adapted for use by a particular culture or group. First employed by Japanese economists in Harvard Business Review articles
Morris, P., McClelland, JAG and Ming, YY (1994). Higher Education in Hong Kong: the context and rationale for rapid expansion. Higher Education 27 125-140.
Soh, K.C. and Ho, K.K. (2014). A tale of two cities’ universities’ rankings: Singapore and Hong Kong. Higher Education, 68(5). pgs 773-787
Vidovich, L. (2008). Research assessment in Singaporean higher education: changing educational accountabilities in the context of globalization. International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives. 9(1) pgs. 37–46. Accessed at https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/index.php/IEJ/article/view/6827/7467
A list of Ruth’s Rankings and News Updates is here.
*Ruth A .Pagell is 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 – orcid.org/0000-0003-3238-9674.