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Kaist ranked first among all Korean universities

Mar 17,2017
ULSAN - Kaist came on top out of Korean schools in the Asia University Rankings 2017, unveiled by the Times Higher Education on Thursday.

It was one of the three Korean universities included in the top 10 out of 300 top Asian universities evaluated by the British ranking institute, placing Kaist 8th, followed by Seoul National University at 9th and Postech at 10th.

Phil Baty, editor of THE World University Rankings, called the development of Korean universities in a relatively short period of time “an extraordinary success story,” but pointed out that the next step to increasing their global rankings would be to raise their international outlook.

“If you look at Postech and Kaist, they are extraordinarily young compared to many universities across Asia and the world,” Baty told the Korea JoongAng Daily Thursday on the sidelines of the Asia Universities Summit at the University of Ulsan. “Oxford and Cambridge have 800 years of history. Harvard has 600. So they’ve achieved phenomenal success in a very short space of time.”

Kaist jumped two ranks compared to last year, while Postech dropped two spots. SNU maintained its ranking. The National University of Singapore maintained first place, followed by Peking University and Tsinghua University.

Baty added, “Korean universities have relatively good funding compared to other universities across the world. Their research impact is excellent, and we can see wonderful examples of industry-university collaboration.”

He pointed to the success of Korea’s ability to get business to invest in universities. “We can see it with Samsung at Sungkyunkwan University, Hyundai at University of Ulsan. It’s a relationship with business that many universities at best can only dream of.”

But, he added, “There is much further to go. Korea has three universities in the top 10 in Asia, but they’re still not in the very high echelons of the global rankings. So, there’s clearly more to do to truly compete with Western elite universities.”

There were 26 Korean institutes included in the THE Asia University Rankings this year, 69 Japanese, 54 Chinese and 33 Indian.

The universities were ranked analyzing teaching, research citations, industry income and international outlook.

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University ranked 4th, followed by University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. University of Tokyo came in 7th.

Sungkyunkwan University dropped one rank from last year coming in at 13th, while Korea University fell three spots to 20th. Yonsei jumped from 37th to 29th place, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology came in at 31st, Kyung Hee University at 36th, and Hanyang University at 38th, rounding up Korean schools included in the top 50.

Kaist narrowly beat out its closest Korean competitors with an overall score of 66.4 points out of a total of 100, SNU with 66.1 and Postech with 66.

Kaist scored 100 points in industry income, the only other school on the list to get the perfect score in this category except Peking University.

But the three Korean universities’ international outlook ranked low, with 34.3 for Kaist, 32.4 for SNU and 34.2 for Postech. By contrast, NUS, which leads the list for the second consecutive year, scored 96 for its international outlook, with an overall score of 80.6.

These regional rankings of Asia’s 300 top universities, up from 200 last year, use the same methodology as Times Higher Education World University Rankings, using 13 separate performance indicators.

However, more weight is put on the importance on industry income, research income, and productivity in publications to reflect the priorities of Asian institutions. SNU ranked 72nd in the World University Rankings 2016-17, Kaist 89th and Postech 104th.

“The one missing link is international outlook,” said Baty on how Korean universities could raise their global rankings. “If Korean universities were more open to collaborate with other nations, recruiting more international faculty, it would push them to the next level.”

He continued, “If you collaborate internationally, your reputation grows because more people are exposed to excellent Korean researchers so the prestige of Korean research grows and the names of Korean universities become known across the world.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]