The university has plans to widen and deepen its talent pool with excellent local and international staff. NSTP/SYARAFIQ ABD SAMAD

Malaysia improves its representation in this year’s Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2020, which was released last week, claiming 13 places overall, up from 11 last year.

Of the two newcomers, the best-performing is Universiti Malaysia Perlis, which debuts in the 601-800 band. The other newcomer is Multimedia University.

The top Malaysian institution in the table is once again Universiti Malaya (UM), which stays in the 301-350 band. It achieves a high international outlook score.

Almost all Malaysian universities remain stable in comparison to their performance last year, with the sole move being Universiti Putra Malaysia, moving up into the 601-800 band (from 801-1,000 last year).

Malaysian institutions achieve a high average score for international outlook and are slightly ahead of the Asean region as a whole when it comes to their scores for teaching environment and citation impact.

THE, in a statement, said Malaysia universities’ worst-performing area was research environment and they lagged behind the rest of the region with regards to links with industry.

THE chief knowledge officer Phil Baty said: “It is an encouraging sign that Malaysian institutions have been able to expand their representation in this year’s rankings, but for Malaysia to move higher up the table the country must focus on developing its research environment. Investment is also a key ingredient to attracting the best international students and academics to Malaysian institutions.”

UM vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Hashim attributed the success to the university’s academic members as well as other staff members, thanking them for their dedication to consistently propel the university’s efforts on every front.

“UM will continue to look for more funding and investment that will enable the institution to increase international collaborations and industry partnerships, and strengthen strategic research and alliances,” he said.

“The university has plans to widen and deepen its talent pool with excellent local and international staff. We are considering these plans, keeping in mind our commitment for financial sustainability. Such plans are long-term in nature, and we strive to achieve long-term results.

“Driven by our mission to be recognised as the internationally preferred institution of higher learning in teaching and learning, research, publication and innovation, we are committed to continuously improve our position in the rankings in line with the University’s Strategic Plan, he added.”

The University of Oxford tops the global rankings for the fourth year running, while the California Institute of Technology rises from fifth to second. The University of Cambridge, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology all drop one place to third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

China now occupies the two top spots in Asia, with Tsinghua University keeping its crown in 23rd position (down from 22nd) and Peking University rising seven places to 24th, overtaking the National University of Singapore in the process. China also strengthens its overall representation in the rankings, claiming 81 spots, nine more than last year, and maintains its seven-strong contingent in the top 200.

On the global trend, Baty said: “It has long been clear that the emerging countries of Asia are going to play an increasingly powerful role among the global elite of higher education. It must also be stated, however, that the traditional Anglo-American powerhouses will not be displaced at the top of our rankings with ease.

“Future editions of the World University Rankings will most likely reveal intense competition, and while European and American institutions face significant hurdles, Chinese and other Asian universities have challenges of their own they must meet. These include ensuring that the excellent academics they produce do not move abroad to more established institutions in Europe and North America; promoting a culture of scholarly creativity and freedom; and boosting ties with nations across the globe.”

THE World University Rankings are generated from five Pillars — a broad set of indicators which represents five key areas in higher education excellence. The five pillars are: Teaching (30 per cent), Research (30 per cent ), Citations (30 per cent), Industry Income (2.5 per cent) and International Outlook (7.5 per cent).

Now in its 16th year, the ranking includes more than 1,396 universities from 92 countries, making it the largest higher education analysis to date.

For full results and analysis, go to