Times Higher Education has said many times before that Asia is the world’s most exciting continent in terms of higher education and research: many governments there recognise the power of universities to drive the knowledge economy, which means that a host of Asian universities enjoy the kind of financial support that many Western institutions can only dream about; Asia has witnessed booming increases in the volume and quality of academic research; and, of course, Asian universities are rising up THE’s World University Rankings to challenge the traditional Western elite.
But this 2017 edition of THE’s Asia University Rankings, expanded to cover 300 universities (although only 298 feature because of our strict eligibility criteria), compared with 200 last year, highlights another exciting but less widely celebrated aspect of Asia’s ascent – the rich diversity of excellence across the region.
Conversations about Asia as the next higher education superpower have tended to focus closely on one nation above all others: China. Its extraordinary transformation into an international research power and the global template that it has set for other nations to follow with its successful series of excellence initiatives, which have helped its leading institutions to blossom into world-class universities, deserve to be celebrated. Similarly, the traditional deep strengths of Japan and the status of South Korea as one of the world’s most knowledge-intensive economies are confirmed by our new data.
However, it is clear from THE’s ever expanding and ever more information-packed database of the world’s leading universities that other Asian nations deserve our attention and admiration.
First on the list should be India. This year features the country’s strongest rankings performance to date. Propelled by its commitment to benchmark its top institutions against the best in Asia and in the world (and with a boost from the expansion of the rankings), India has more than doubled its representation in this prestigious annual list – from 16 institutions last year to 33 in 2017.
The 2017 ranking also features for the first time representatives from the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Kuwait, and the results lend further weight to THE’s data-driven identification last year of the “TACTICS” nations (Thailand, Argentina, Chile, Turkey, Iran, Colombia and Serbia) as those positioned for growing prominence on the international higher education stage. Of the Asian TACTICS, Thailand has increased its representation in this ranking from seven to 10, Turkey from 11 to 17, and Iran has almost doubled its representation, from eight to 14 institutions.
All in all, this top 300 list includes 24 countries from right across the continent. As we expand and deepen our database, gathering millions of data points on great institutions across the world, Times Higher Education is delighted to be able to bring fresh insights and to celebrate the strengths of an ever widening pool of institutions and countries.
Editor, Times Higher Education Rankings