Malaysia’s UM slides to 65th spot globally in QS world university rankings; Taylor’s, UCSI, UTP, UUM, Sunway climb higher

Universiti Malaya fell to the 65th spot in the latest annual university rankings by global higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Universiti Malaya fell to the 65th spot in the latest annual university rankings by global higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Malaysia’s oldest and leading university Universiti Malaya (UM) fell to the 65th spot in the latest annual university rankings by global higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds, but at the same time held firm to its status as one of the top 100 universities in the world.

In the QS World University Rankings 2022 released today, a total of 1,300 universities located in 97 locations globally were surveyed, including 22 Malaysian universities (21 existing participating universities and with Universiti Kuala Lumpur as the new entry in the 801-1,000 rank category).

As a whole, the QS rankings saw more than half or 12 of the 22 Malaysian universities as having recorded declines in their ranking, including UM which went down by six rungs from its record best of 59th spot last year to the 65th spot in this year’s rankings. QS noted that the 65th spot is UM’s second-best performance in the rankings’ history.

Others which similarly recorded a drop in rankings include Universiti Putra Malaysia or UPM (down from the ranking of 132 to 143), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia or UKM (down from 141 to 144), Universiti Sains Malaysia or USM (down from 142 to 147), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (down from 187 to 191).

Five Malaysian universities improve on their ranking when compared to last year’s rankings, namely Taylor’s University which climbed up 47 spots from 379 in the 2021 rankings to 332 in the 2022 rankings, UCSI University which climbed 44 spots from 391 to 347, Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) up 25 spots from 439 to 414, Universiti Utara Malaysia from the 531-540 category to 511-520 category, and Sunway University which moved out of the 701-750 bracket to the 651-700 bracket.

The rest are four universities which remained stable in their ranking, and new entry Universiti Kuala Lumpur within the 801 to 1,000 rank category.


Despite the slide in rankings for many Malaysian universities in the annual survey, QS director of research Ben Sowter expressed optimism for Malaysia’s future in terms of higher education.

“Though Malaysian higher education is unable to improve on last year’s record-breaking performance, QS continues to commend Malaysian universities on the extraordinary progress that they have made over the last five years,” he said in a statement.

“As recently as 2018, Universiti Malaya was not a top-100 university: it has now firmly established itself among the 100 best universities in the world,” he said, with QS having highlighted that the UM has kept its place among the top 100 universities globally for a fourth consecutive year.

“In 2018, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia had never ranked among the world’s top 150; they have now both spent consecutive years in this bracket.

“With positive reputational trends and a highly supportive government, we expect that future years will see Malaysian higher education reach new heights once more,” he added.

Analysing the rankings

QS said its rankings are compiled based on six indicators, namely Academic Reputation based on survey responses from 130,000 academics, Employer Reputation based on 75,000 employers’ survey responses on the relationship between institutions and graduates’ employability, Citations Per Faculty, Faculty to Student Ratio, International Faculty Ratio and International Student Ratio.

QS noted that indicators for UM’s reputation among academics and employers are outstanding, with its scores trending upwards over the last year and with the university now achieving being among the world’s top 50 Employer Reputation institutions with 91.7 out of 100, or 46th spot in terms of Employer Reputation.

As for why UM marked a small decline in the overall global rankings despite improving in reputational score, QS said this was due to its failure to improve in the other four indicators.

“The most significant determinant of its drop is its research performance: it has fallen 44 places in the Citations per Faculty indicator, dropping out of the top 250 when universities are measured by research impact,” QS said.

While most of the 22 Malaysian universities in the rankings had recorded declines in their overall global rankings this year, QS said many were still consistently improving in terms of their reputational scores.

Out of the 22 Malaysian universities, 15 of them have improved in their scores for Academic Reputation while five had recorded declines in this score.

For Academic Reputation, QS highlighted that USM had achieved its best score at 123rd spot, while UKM was at the 130th spot with its best ever score, and UPM ranked 143rd globally for this score. QS said all three were trending towards the global top 100 for this indicator, which it said is likely to lead to future rises in their rankings.

As for Employer Reputation, 13 of the 22 Malaysian universities improved (including Taylor’s University which at the 90th spot entered the global top 100 scores for this indicator for the first time), while eight universities had declined for this indicator.

The other four indicators used in the QS rankings posed challenges to Malaysian universities this year, with 20 of them having a worse year-on-year performance for the International Faculty Ratio indicator.

For example, UPM received lower scores for both Faculty/Student Ratio and Citations per Faculty indicators when compared against last year, while UKM declined in its scores for Citations per Faculty and both the International Faculty Ratio and International Student Ratio indicators.

USM and UTM both also recorded large declines in the Faculty/Student Ratio indicator.

These four — UPM, UKM, USM and UTM — had all improved their scores for both Academic Reputation and Employer Reputation.

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