University of Malaya top Asean emerging economies university again

University of Malaya top Asean emerging economies university again
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The University of Malaya (UM) has garnered the top spot in the Times Higher Education (THE) Emerging Economies University Rankings 2019 (EEU2019) for Asean universities. Leaping nine places over its global EEU2019 ranking of 27 last year, UM finished in its highest position yet, ranked 18th globally.

The annual THE Emerging Economies University Rankings 2019 sees Malaysian universities dominate the list of 32 Asean universities, with six ranked in the top 10 of the Asean sublist: Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Sains (US), Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), and Universiti Kebangsaan (UK). Five others filled positions between 11 and and 32, with Malaysia’s Universiti Teknologi MARA and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) making their debut entries.

While the number of Malaysian universities in the 2019 Emerging Economies University Rankings increased from nine last year to 11 this year, only two institutions improved their ranking over the period, with three seeing their ranking fall. Three others maintained their same ranking as last year.

Mahidol again dethroned

With 14 higher education institutions represented in the EEU2019 list, Thai universities are the most represented.

University of Malaya (UM) shines again, topping all 31 emerging economies universities in the region in this year's rankings
University of Malaya (UM) shines again, topping all 31 emerging economies universities in the region in this year’s rankings AEC News Today

However, while Mahidol University (MU) saw its global rank increase from 76 to 68, it wasn’t enough to see it retain its number two position in the Asean sublist, a 17 place rise by Malaysia’s UTP seeing it put a very solid claim on the title.

Also joining Mahidol in the top 10, though one position lower at ninth in the EEU2019 Asean sublist than last year, is Chulalongkorn University (CU) whose global EEU ranking improved three places to 123 this year.

With the exception of King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL), which saw its standing in the Asean sublist remain unchanged, all other Thai universities received weaker gradings this year. King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Thonburi (KMITT) fell the most, plummeting from fourth ranked on the Asean EEU sublist last year, to 15th this.

Of note is the entry this year of Thammasat University, one of Thailand’s most established, which debuted in the global EEU2019 list in the 251-300 band. In the Asean sublist it debuted at number 25.

Also making their premier was Mahasarakham University, Naresuan University, and Srinakharinwirot University, filling positions 28, 29, and 30 respectively in the 2019 EEU Asean sublist.

University of Indonesia fastest rising

For improvement its impossible to go past the University of Indonesia (UI), which rocketed into the global top 100 to rank 82 in the global EEU2019 rankings, up from 84 last year, and to seize the fourth position as highest ranked university in  the Asean EEU2019 sublist.

Also racing up the chart in Indonesia this year was Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) which saw its global rank leap 27 places to finish at 164 globally, compared with 191 last year, to fill the 12th ranking in Asean. Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (SNIT) made an impressive debut into the EEU2019 sublist to rank at 24 in Asean and in the 251-300 band globally.

For Bogor Agricultural University (BAU) and Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) the news was bad. Both saw their EEU2019 ranking fall 50 places from the 201-250 bracket in 2017, to 251-300 this year. While the BAU saw its Asean sublist ranking remain stagnant at 18, UGM dropped two places to be ranked 21.

University of the Philippines onwards & upwards

Only marginally less impressive than the UIs rise was that of the University of the Philippines (UP), which also rose into the top 100 globally to snare position 87, from 166 in 2017. The meteoric rise seeing it  rank number six in the Asean EEU2019 sublist, from number 12 last year.

Joining the UP in the EEU2019 was De La Salle University, which entered the list in the global 251-300 band and position number 20 on the Asean sublist.

China ranked top globally

The report noted significant progress in the Asean region, particularly resulting from research and industry income scores.

With regard to the domination of the top 10 Asean EEU2019 sublist by Malaysia universities, Ellie Bothwell, THE global rankings editor, said, “Malaysia is one of the success stories of this year’s rankings, with many of the country’s universities rising.

“The nation is rapidly becoming an international student hub, and reforms aimed at granting students greater political freedoms – and its universities more autonomy – are welcome.

“However, cuts to higher education funding pose a threat to the nation’s success in future years. Malaysia must ensure that its universities receive enough investment to thrive in an increasingly competitive global higher education market”, Ms Bothwell added.

The report authors reported that the EEU2019 saw 72 entries from mainland China, up from 63 last year, driving the total number of entries from 43 countries up to 442, from 378 in 2018.

Chinese universities claim top four rankings

Mahidol University (MU) fell from Asean's second ranked emerging university in 2018 to number three this year
Mahidol University (MU) fell from Asean’s second ranked emerging university in 2018 to number three this year Mahidol University

Four Chinese universities — Tsinghua University, Peking University, Zhejiang University, and the University of Science and Technology of China — took the top four positions in the global EEU2019 list.

The THE EEU2019 rankings uses the same 13 performance indicators as the THE World University Rankings to evaluate institutions based on their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The methodology can be found online.

With increasing numbers of mainland Chinese universities, in addition to those across the Asean region, entering the THE global rankings, some of the region’s better known universities that have traded on their past reputation are very quickly going to have the cost of their tuition questioned, along with the value of their degrees, as their global rankings are eroded.

To help keep things in a regional perspective AEC News Today first began compiling an Asean sublist from the official THE data in 2017. In that time the number of Asean universities in the Asean sublist has increased from 21 entries to 32 (See: Singapore tops first Asia-Pacific university rankings: Malaysia rising).


Feature photo University of Malaya



  • University Malaya tops Asean emerging economies university list (AEC News Today)
  • NUS, Mahidol casualties of rising China & Malaysia: 2019 World University Rankings (AEC News Today)
  • Malaysia swamps Asean’s best young university list (AEC News Today)


John Le Fevre in Bangkok contributed to this story



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Stella-maris Ewudolu

Journalist at AEC News Today

Stella-maris graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Education from Ebonyi State University, Nigeria in 2005.

Between November 2010 and February 2012 she was a staff writer at Daylight Online, Nigeria writing on health, fashion, and relationships. From 2010 – 2017 she worked as a freelance screen writer for ‘Nollywood’, Nigeria.

She joined AEC News Today in December 2016.

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