Asia University Rankings 2022: results announced

Saudi Arabian universities improving fast in regional ranking

June 1, 2022
Old Makkah Gate, Jeddah
Source: iStock

View the THE Asia University Rankings 2022 results

Saudi Arabian universities are gaining ground, Times Higher Education’s Asia University Rankings 2022 reveal.

There are now six Saudi Arabian universities in the top 100, up from four last year, and four in the top 50, double the number in 2021.

The best-performing institution in Saudi Arabia is King Abdulaziz University, which sits at number 28 in the ranking. The public university in Jeddah was established in 1967 by a group of businessmen, before being converted to a public institution seven years later. It scores especially highly for international collaboration (93.6 out of 100) and citations (92.4).

King Abdulaziz University ranks at joint 190th in THE’s World University Rankings 2022; the results, published last year, marked the first time that a university from Saudi Arabia had been included in the top 200.

Overall, there are 15 Saudi universities in the Asia rankings, up from 10 in 2021 and seven in 2020.

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Following King Abdulaziz is Alfaisal University in 34th position. The private, not-for-profit institution is based in Riyadh.

King Saud University, a public institution in Riyadh, ranks at joint 44th, up from 53rd last year. King Saud was the first university to be established in the country in 1957 and originally named Riyadh University.

King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals also ranks among the top 50, at 48th position, up from joint 84th last year.

Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s national strategy introduced by Mohammed bin Salman in 2016, includes a target of at least five Saudi universities ranking among the top 200 in international rankings. The plan aims to move the Saudi economy away from an over-reliance on oil revenues to a more balanced financial model, and higher education is seen as integral to this.

Jamil Salmi, an education economist who formerly served as the coordinator of the World Bank’s tertiary education programme, said that 30 years ago, Egypt had the best education system in the Arab world, but Saudi Arabia has now taken that crown.

Observing that a successful higher education system was a result of a combination of talent, resources and governance, he said Saudi Arabia has talent and resources but still has some improvements to make in terms of governance. Universities need to have “flexibility [and] enough autonomy”, he explained.

However, he continued, the country has “been able to train many Saudis, both men and women, to get a master’s or a PhD abroad, and then to come back and teach or research in their universities”.

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China still leads the Asia rankings, with Tsinghua and Peking universities taking the top two spots for the third consecutive year. The country has now secured its dominance in the region, being home to nearly a third of institutions (30) in the top 100.

In contrast, Japan has six fewer universities in the top 100 compared with 2020, with just eight, down from 14. However, it is still the most-represented nation overall, with 118 institutions.

The THE Asia University Rankings use the same 13 performance indicators as the World University Rankings, but they are recalibrated to reflect the attributes of Asia’s institutions.

THE Asia University Rankings 2022: the top 10

2022 rank 2021 rank Institution Country/region
1 1 Tsinghua University China
2 2 Peking University China
3 3 National University of Singapore Singapore
4 4 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
5 5 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
6 6 The University of Tokyo Japan
7 7 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
8 9 Seoul National University South Korea
9 8 The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
10 11 Fudan University China

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