KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 — Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has become Malaysia’s third top 100 institutions for the first time in the Times Higher Education (THE) Emerging Economies University Ranking 2021.

Out of 606 tertiary institutions worldwide ranked this year, THE said UPM had climbed from 106th to 78th this year, joining University of Malaya (31st) and Universiti Teknologi Petronas (62nd) in the list.

UM — the country’s highest ranked university — however fell 10 places behind from its 21st ranking in 2020 to its current 31st place.

Separately, THE said the ranking demonstrates the growing strength of secondary emerging countries heavily driven by Pakistan, China, and Russia.

China and Russia dominated the top 100 as both held 47 positions between them with China also becoming the first country or region to secure all of the top five positions in the ranking, after both Fudan University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University moved up in the table.

The top three universities were China’s Tsinghua University, Peking University and Zhejiang University respectively.

Additionally, University of Science and Technology of China and Nanjing University — both from China — took seventh and ninth place respectively.

Russia’s sole institution in the top 10 universities was Lomonosov Moscow State University at sixth place.

Two other institutions — Taiwan’s National Taiwan University (NTU) and South Africa’s University of Cape Town — took eighth and tenth place respectively.

Overall, THE pointed out that universities from emerging economies are improving at a much faster rate than those around the rest of the world who are ranked in the THE World University Rankings.

THE chief knowledge officer, Phil Baty said it was a testament to the success of China’s investment in its higher education sector that enabled the country to achieve the top five positions in the ranking since it was launched in 2014.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a number of changes for higher education, with many turning to online learning and teaching, and less students travelling internationally.

“We are looking forward to seeing how universities from emerging economies position themselves in the upcoming year, and the opportunities they offer both internally and on a global scale,” he said.

This year’s ranking includes a record 606 universities from 48 countries and regions or 14 per cent more than in 2020 (533), as 86 universities make their debut.

The rankings include institutions in countries or regions classified by the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE Group as “advanced emerging”, “secondary emerging”, or “frontier”, and highlight the growing strength of secondary emerging countries.