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University of Malaya (UM) was ranked 46th in the 2018 Asia University Rankings released by the Times Higher Education (THE). File pic by NURUL SHAFINA JEMENON.

KUALA LUMPUR: University of Malaya (UM) has made it to the top 50 of the 2018 Asia University Rankings released by the Times Higher Education (THE) today.

It has climbed up to the 46th position, after making its debut at number 59 last year.

Eight other Malaysian universities also made the list in the rankings this year with Universiti Tuanku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) reaching the 99th position from last year's 111-120 bracket and Universiti Teknologi Petronas sharing the 114th position, up from the 141-150 bracket.

However, most of Malaysia’s lower ranked universities have declined in position.

According to THE, Malaysia’s leading institution improved in all five areas underpinning the ranking – teaching, research, citation impact, industry income and international outlook.

Malaysia’s universities generally have a strong international outlook and achieve quite high levels of industry income.

"The country’s weakest area is citation impact but this was an area of improvement this year. Malaysia also picked up points for research productivity. However, the country’s scores for its proportion of international students, student-staff ratio and income per staff all declined," said THE's editorial director of global rankings, Phil Baty.

The main trend of this year’s THE Asia University Rankings is the continued rise of China. The People’s Republic now claims almost one in five places in the rankings and several of its institutions have made strong gains, not least Tsinghua University, which is now the country’s top ranked institution.

The National University of Singapore holds onto the overall number one spot after improving its scores in almost all areas. But many Asian nations are feeling the competition.

While India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey have all increased their representation, several of their universities have fallen down the list. These countries will need to work hard to stand out among the heavy competition in the world’s largest continent.

A look at how the local universities were ranked in the Times Higher Education (THE) 2018 Asia University Rankings. (= indicates shared rankings.)

In a separate statement, UM’s Vice-Chancellor, Datuk Ir. (Dr.) Abdul Rahim Hashim said the improvement in rankings is an affirmation of the university’s strategic plan as UM continue to strive to be an internationally renowned institution of higher learning in teaching, research, publication and innovation.

UM’s rise in rankings is also a testament that the investments and initiatives taken over several years to improve the performance of the university are on track.

Abdul Rahim reiterated that UM is not pursuing rankings but its participation in the ranking systems is to benchmark UM against other institutions of higher learning in order to gauge the present state and status of the university and to plan for further improvement.

He also mentioned that over the years UM has improved in building on its fundamentals but it is also pertinent for UM to continue to improve in the area of graduate employability, networking and collaboration with industries and international strategic partnerships.

He thanked the university community - staff and students for their commitment and contribution towards the achievement of the university’s performance. He also recorded his appreciation towards the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) for its unwavering support and hoped that the ministry will provide stronger support for UM to rise further in university rankings in the future and make the nation proud.

The THE 2018 Asia University Rankings has expanded to include 359 universities, up from 298 last year.

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