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Asia moves up university league table
08 Oct, 2009 17:07:03
LONDON, October 8, 2009 (AFP) - US and British universities dominate the top of a league table of universities worldwide published Thursday, but Asian seats of learning are moving up the global rankings.
Harvard remains in top spot in the Times Higher Education (THE) league table, followed by Britain's Cambridge University then Yale in third place, with London's University College and Imperial College in fourth and fifth.

Oxford has slipped one to joint fifth, but the next 10 places are occupied by US universities, most of them Ivy League like Princeton and Columbia, but also including Chicago University.

But Asian universities, while still struggling to break into the top 20, are moving upwards, with numbers in the top 200 growing in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Malaysia.

After the University of Tokyo in 22nd place come the University of Hong Kong in 24th, Japan's Kyoto University in 25th, and the National University of Singapore in 30th.

Philip Altbach of Boston University says the Asian improvement is due to a number of factors.

"These countries have invested heavily in higher education in recent years, and this is reflected in the improved quality in their top institutions," he told the Times education weekly.

"They have also attempted to internationalise their universities by hiring more faculty from overseas... this helps to improve their visibility globally," he added.

Japan has the most top-200-ranked universities at 11, one more than last year, followed by China with six; Hong Kong (up from four to five); South Korea (up from three to four); and Singapore and India, with two each.

Europe's top non-British university is Switzerland's Federal Institute of Technology in 20th spot, followed by France's Ecole Normale Superieure in 28th. The top German university is the Technical University of Munich, in 55th.

The top non-US and non-European universities are the Australian National University in 17th place, down one, and Canada's McGill University in 18th position, down two.

The league table, compiled by the THE in collaboration with the QS global career and education network, ranks universities according to a series of criteria including peer review, employers' views and student opinion surveys.

In Britain, Oxford University voiced surprise at the downgrading.

"League table rankings can vary as they often use different methods to measure success," said a spokesman for Oxford, one of the world's oldest universities which has a fierce rivalry with Cambridge.

"But Oxford University's position is surprising given that Oxford... has the highest research income of any UK university and has come first in every national league table," he added.

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