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UM was the highest-ranked Malaysian university as it was listed as being in the top 301 to 350 universities globally for the fourth straight year. — Picture by Hari Anggara
UM was the highest-ranked Malaysian university as it was listed as being in the top 301 to 350 universities globally for the fourth straight year. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 — Malaysia’s oldest university Universiti Malaya (UM) has retained its spot among the top 350 universities in a global ranking for the fourth consecutive year, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022 has shown.

The latest edition of THE World University Rankings had looked at a record number of 1,662 universities from 99 countries and regions, which is 136 more universities than the 1,526 universities in the 2021 rankings.

There is also a record number of 18 Malaysian universities being ranked in the 2022 edition, which is up from the 15 Malaysian universities ranked in 2021 and the 13 ranked in 2020.

In the 2022 rankings released today, UM was the highest-ranked Malaysian university as it was listed as being in the top 301 to 350 universities globally for the fourth straight year.

This year’s second-highest ranked Malaysian university, Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP), moves into the top 600 universities bracket in this ranking for the first time.

This marks an improvement as UTP was previously ranked in the top 601 to 800 universities category in 2021, but has now been categorised as being among the top 501 to 600 universities globally in the 2022 rankings.

Five other local universities stayed in the same 601-800 bracket that they were placed in last year, namely Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), and Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).

Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten) also retained its last year’s ranking as being in the 801-1,000 category and was this year joined by a newly-included university Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) in the same category.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar), which was the second-highest ranked local university in last year’s rankings, slipped from the 501-600 band in the 2021 rankings to the 1,001-1,200 band in the 2022 rankings.

Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) which was ranked as being in the 1,001+ band last year, was this year also ranked in the 1,001-1,200 band.

Two local universities which were included in the rankings for the first time, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), both debuted in the 1,201+ band.

The five remaining universities were placed in the 1,001+ band last year and are this year placed in the 1,201+ band, namely Multimedia University (MMU), Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), and Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM).

How Malaysia compares regionally

In South-east Asia, 59 universities from seven Asean member countries were included in the THE World University Rankings 2022. Universities from three Asean countries, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, were not part of the rankings.

Singapore’s universities had the best rankings regionally and were the only ones to be in the top 50 out of the 1,662 universities worldwide, with the National University of Singapore (NUS) ranking 21 and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) ranking 46.

Next came Malaysia’s UM in the 301-350 band, with the fourth-best regionally in this ranking being the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (351-400), followed by Vietnam’s Ton Duc Thang University and Duy Tan University both at 401-500, and Malaysia’s UTP (501-600).

Joining Malaysia’s five universities in the 601-800 band in the 2022 rankings are two universities in Thailand, Mahidol University and Mae Fah Luang University, as well as the Philippines’ University of the Philippines.

Also in the same 801-1,000 category as two Malaysian universities are Indonesia’s University of Indonesia, and Thailand’s King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi and Chulalongkorn University.

Joining Utar in the 1,001-1,200 category are Indonesia’s Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia, Thailand’s Chiang Mai University, and Vietnam’s Vietnam National University, Hanoi.

The rest of the regional universities (in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines) were also in the 1,201+ bracket, which seven Malaysian universities are currently listed in.

The world’s top 10 universities

The top 10 universities in the 2022 rankings are the same as the 2021 rankings, with the difference being some having moved up and some having shifted down while others remained unchanged. All 10 are in the UK and US.

UK’s University of Oxford, which the rankings noted as having led the way in the global search for a Covid-19 vaccine, continued to be the number one university in the rankings for the sixth consecutive year.

The US’ California Institute of Technology and Harvard University both tied at the second place, with the next highest ranked university worldwide being Stanford University also from the US (fourth spot), followed by the UK’s University of Cambridge and the US’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology (both at the fifth spot).

Rounding up the top 10 universities in the 2022 global list are all universities from the US, namely Princeton University (seventh spot), University of California, Berkeley (eighth place), Yale University (ninth) and the University of Chicago (10th).

THE’s chief knowledge officer Phil Baty said the world’s elite universities have enjoyed a long period of dominance at the top of the rankings, with help from historic reputation, global status, and reliable income, but said THE’s data shows that there are clear shifts happening in higher education around the world.

“We are already seeing clear disruption to the established norms from mainland China, and record highs for Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong show that Asia is continuing to benefit from the focus and investment in higher education across the continent,” he said in a statement.

Universities from such locations had this year climbed to their highest global rankings since THE World University Rankings’ current methodology’s introduction in 2016, with those with their best-ever finishes including Singapore’s NUS (21st spot), Hong Kong’s University of Hong Kong (shared 30th spot with UK’s University of Edinburgh), and Japan’s University of Tokyo (shared 35th spot with UK’s King’s College London).

China continued to rise up the table, as Peking University and Tsinghua University both tied at the 16th spot this year, which meant that the country had two universities in the top 20 list for the first time ever.

THE noted that there was also a record number of mainland Chinese universities ranked in the top 200, with these 10 universities including three which had newly moved into the top 200 band (Wuhan University (157th), Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) (=162nd), and Huazhong University of Science and Technology (181th)).

“In the coming years  it will be interesting to see whether the US, UK and other world-leading higher education systems can respond to the challenges of Covid-19, including attracting international academic and student talent, and a possibly serious impact on already stretched funding, to hold onto their positions at the very top of the table,” Phil also said.

Among other things, THE had also noted that the 2022 rankings — in a year dominated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic — had shown a number of universities’ Covid-19 focused research had resulted in a significant boost in their citation scores (which examine a university’s research influence and look at their role in spreading new knowledge and ideas).

THE said a number of medical universities moved up in the rankings since last year following Covid-19 research, including China’s Capital Medical University (501-600), Taiwan’s Asia University, Taiwan (501-600), Saudi Arabia’s Umm Al-Qura University (601-800), and Estonia’s Tallinn University of Technology (601-800) with all these four universities moving up at least one ranking band.

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