By Ruth A. Pagell*
(7 Apr 2021) It is worth checking the updated rankings for changes in methodology or in top universities. Major changes at the top rarely happen as is the case with the updates from QS subject rankings, THE’s Emerging Economies, the student-focused Japanese Universities, and Nature Index Asia Pacific. Look away from the top 10 in the world for more interesting results.
- What Asian University is tops in Hospitality & Leisure Management?
- What do the University of Dhaka (Bangladesh) and the University of Tartu (Estonia) have in common?
- What Japanese university, not ranked in THE World Rankings, is tops in two of the four metrics for Japan University Rankings?
- What is the one Thai university in Nature Index Asia Pacific Supplement?
It is two years since Ruth’s Rankings 40, an in-depth analysis of QS’ subject rankings. The 2021 edition has 1,440 universities, 85 locations and 51 subjects, an increase of 218 universities, seven countries and three subjects. The methodology remains the same, with academic and employer reputation from survey results, and H-Index and Citations per Paper from Scopus. Weightings vary by subject. For most subjects, reputation outweighs research. The advantages of the QS approach are the inclusion of universities not in their world rankings and an increasing number of specific subjects. The more specific the subject the better the possibility that universities not in the world’s top 10 will rise to the top.
The number of universities by country from 2016 to 2020 in the top 50 of the Broad Subject areas remained consistent. A positive change for North America is that the United States added five universities to the top 50 in Natural Sciences and Canada increased from one to four universities in Engineering and Technology. Table 1 lists the top universities in the world, Asia (East and South) and Oceana for the Broad Categories, and all the Arts & Humanities and Social Science subjects. Number one for the World and Asia have not changed. National Singapore University is tops in four of the five categories and Nanyang Technological University in one. NUS is tops in 11 of the 14 Social Studies categories, which is not very helpful. To see how an individual university ranks in each subject requires looking at each one.
I listened to the QS subject rankings presentation. It went beyond the existing rankings and looked at collaboration and cross-disciplinary research, themes for our next Ruth’s Rankings.
QS Methodology: O’Callaghan, C. (29 March 2021) https://www.topuniversities.com/subject-rankings/methodology
THE Initiated this ranking in 2014 as THE BRICS and Emerging Economies with 100 institutions from 18 regions. It was covered in Ruth’s Rankings 5. The 2021 edition has 606 institutions from 48 regions. This eclectic group of institutions is based on their countries being listed on the FTSE (Financial Times) stock market as Advanced Emerging, Secondary Emerging or Frontier Emerging Economies. China has seven of the top 10, 35 of the top 50, and a total of 93 institutions, followed by India, the Russian Federation, and Turkey. See Tables 2A and 2B for the top in each Asian country and top ten overall.
The FTSE groupings do not map to the World Bank income levels. The examples below are for countries listed as Frontier Economies.
Example 1: Comparison of Emerging Economies selected from Frontier Economies
Example 2: Comparison of Emerging Economies selected from Frontier Economies, filtered by continent and income
Use these additional filters for benchmarking. THE does not provide this information.
Resources for THE Emerging Markets:
International Data by income level: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD
World Bank Country and Lending Groups: https://datahelpdesk.worldbank.org/knowledgebase/articles/906519-world-bank-country-and-lending-group
GNI per capita: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD
FTSE Equity Markets: https://research.ftserussell.com/products/downloads/Matrix-of-Markets_latest.pdf
We have not revisited THE’s Japan University rankings since 2017, when we included a News Flash on the rankings and an article, Ruth’s Rankings 28. It reported on the fall of Japanese universities in THE World rankings. The Japan ranking uses four metrics that incorporate results from a variety of sources, such as the Japan Student Survey, data from the schools, THE’s Reputation surveys, and from Elsevier. Metrics include:
- Resources – Tokyo Medical and Dental University
- Engagement and Environment– Akita International University
- Outcomes – Kyoto
Akita International University is an English language public institution founded in 2004 that ranks in the 500s among Japanese institutions, based on output and citations per publications in SciVal (Scopus) data and is not ranked in THE’s 2021 World Rankings.
The target audience for this ranking is Japanese families. See Table 3 for the top 10 from the Japan rankings and their world ranks.
Resources THE Japan Universities
4 – Nature Index Asia Pacific Supplement
The rankings show little change from those reported in our second quarter update for 2020. When analyzing Nature Index results, keep in mind that they are based on size-dependent output measures using primary research articles from 82 journals covering a limited range of subjects. 35 Asia-Pacific countries or territories have at least one author from any type of organization included in the count. Only nine countries have institutions in any Asia-Pacific top list. Hong Kong is listed under China. I have treated it as a separate location.
Nature’s Asia Pacific Rankings includes the top 200 Overall. In 2013 Japan was the leader in the region with five institutions in the regional top ten and global top 50 and 60 overall. China had 65 with three in the top 10. In these rankings, Japan has 26 and China has 114.
There are six tables. In addition to 200 Overall institutions, there are 200 Rising rankings, institutions with the most increase in the past five years. Subjects, each with 100 institutions, include Earth & Environmental, Physical, and Life Sciences, and Chemistry. Number one in all subject categories is CAS, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with almost four times more output than number two, University of Science and Technology China (USTC). See Table 4 for the top 20 Overall, the top in each country and institutions ranked in the top 10 of any category.
Figure 1 shows the distribution of institutions by topic. It illustrates the predominance of China over the other Asia Pacific countries. The most obvious representation of Chinese universities is in Rising. It is another illustration of the impact of Chinese funding for research. Japan’s top subject is Life Sciences, and South Korea’s is Physical Sciences
One focus of the articles in 2021 Nature Index Asia Pacific is collaboration or partnerships, a topic also being addressed by QS and THE. Collaboration data are one of the topics in our review of the new World University Research Rankings in the upcoming Ruth’s Rankings.
Resources for Nature Index:
Nature Index FAQs: https://www.natureindex.com/faq
Nature Index Journals: https://www.natureindex.com/faq#journals
Nature Index Asia Pacific Tables 2021: https://www.natsre.com/collections/fjggfehhij/tables
Nature Publishing Index 2013 Asia Pacific: https://www.natureasia.com/en/publishing-index/pdf/NPI2013_Asia-Pacific.pdf
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 – https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3238-9674