Slight drop yet Universiti Malaya still among top 50 Asian unis in Times Higher Education 2021 rankings

A general view of Universiti Malaya after the government announced the Movement Control Order, March 17, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
A general view of Universiti Malaya after the government announced the Movement Control Order, March 17, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — University of Malaya (UM) has retained its dominant position despite a slight drop as the nation’s most prestigious institution of higher learning, after the Times Higher Education’s (THE) Asia University Rankings 2021 placed it as one of the top 50 institutions in the region.

UM’s position, in 49th place, in the top 50 universities in Asia is now in its fourth consecutive year, from 43rd place last year. The other top four Malaysian institutions outside the top 50 universities in Asia have either managed to improve or retain their 2020 position.

These include Universiti Teknologi Petronas, which now sits at 111th compared to 124th last year, and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, which retains the 119th place.

Universiti Putra Malaysia, meanwhile, stands at 136th compared to 145th place, while Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia managed to clinch the 150th place, compared to 160th last year.

Relatively impressive is Universiti Utara Malaysia at 155th place, which THE reported as having made the greatest gains of any domestic institution as it climbed two ranking bands to achieve its first ever top 200 finish.

In total, 15 Malaysian institutions qualified for the Asia University Rankings 2021, which also include Universiti Kuala Lumpur and Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka, both of which debuted in the 401+ range.

THE’s chief knowledge officer Phil Baty said it is an impressive achievement to see a number of Malaysia’s universities improve or maintain their previous ranking positions, despite growing competitiveness across the region.

“THE’s Asia University Rankings are an important measure of the strength of higher education across the continent. Achieving a top 50 position in these rankings is a great achievement but to do so, for four consecutive years, as UM has, is a testament to its strengths nationally, regionally and globally.

“It will be interesting to see what happens in Malaysia over the coming years, and how universities adapt to the post Covid-19 world. Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, there may be an opportunity for Malaysian universities to attract and retain more regional students,” he said in a statement.

In South-east Asia, two of Singapore’s institutions made it to the top 10 universities — the National University of Singapore was placed third, while Nanyang Technological University is in the fifth position.

Brunei’s Universiti Brunei Darussalam is at 60th for 2021, followed by the Philippines’ University of the Philippines at 84th, Thailand’s Mahidol University at 130th, Indonesia’s University of Indonesia at 194th and Vietnam’s Vietnam National University in the 251-300 category.

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