Wednesday, June 29, 2016

THE's Top 10 Asian University rankings for 2016

Last week, the Times Higher Education Supplement, also known as "those posh Brits who do the world university rankings every year" released their special 2016 Asian Edition rankings. Three Korean schools made the Top 10, rounding out the bottom. 

According to the site, these are basically using the same criteria as the normal worldwide rankings, but are "adjusted" to reflect most Asian universities being younger than their established Western counterparts, and to factor in support from industry sources. Anyway here they are:

2016 Asian University Rankings 

Asian Rank - World Rank - Name - Location
  1. (26) National University of Singapore (Singapore)
  2. (55) Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
  3. (42) Peking University (China)
  4. (~44) University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
  5. (~47) Tsinghua University (China)
  6. (59) Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong)
  7. (43) University of Tokyo (Japan)
  8. (116) Pohang University of Science and Technology (South Korea)
  9. (85) Seoul National University (South Korea)
  10. (148) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) (South Korea)

Most of the article reads like a huge puff piece about how great Singapore is. Never been, couldn't say. It's a long article. Here are the relevant parts about Korea:

South Koreans have also been “quite good on the internationalisation front, by relying effectively on the diaspora, inviting foreign researchers to their universities and multiplying the number of programmes taught in English”.
Chung Kyu Sang, president of Sungkyunkwan University, in 12th place, admits that internationalisation was a “weak side” of South Korea’s higher education system, particularly compared with Singapore and Hong Kong, but that recent investment in this area has raised its international reputation.
He adds that his own institution has recruited former company executives as professors to strengthen industry-university cooperation.
“As a result, Sungkyunkwan University has attained 329.4 billion won [£195 million] in research funding, which has increased significantly since 2010 when it was at 219.9 billion won,” he says.
However, Terri Kim, reader in comparative higher education at the University of East London, says that while a number of leading foreign academics had been lured to work at top South Korean universities following major government funding injections, many have since terminated their contracts and left the country.
“International students and staff are treated as guests and they are not really part of the local system, so there is a sense of exclusion, or non-inclusion, all the time,” she says.
Part of the reason for this, she explains, is that South Korea was never a Western colony, unlike many of its neighbours, meaning that the country has not had the same history of “accommodating Western cultural standards” as other countries in Asia.
She adds: “The culture of faculty doesn’t change with government policy. On a day-to-day basis, inside the classrooms and inside the laboratories, the old practice continues.”
Asia University Rankings 2016: results announced | THE Rankings

That bolded part is intersting. It's apparently true that many foreign professors end up not liking it here and taking off. The Chosun Ilbo reported on it awhile back  [The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) - Why Are Foreign Academics Running Away?] and even this very ranking group wrote it up [Foreign academics in Korea: disempowered and ready to leave? | Times Higher Education (THE)].

What do you think? Does Korea's awkwardness with English and keeping foreign staff happy relate to not having been colonized by the West? Sure, not like Singapore or Hong Kong, but the UN Occupation Forces, and specifically United States military and business interests have a good 50 years of being here in Korea and Japan too.

I'm going to go rogue here and say there's a bit of pompousness in this. The subtext: if you were occupied by Britain at some point, you're good. If you were occupied by America, you suck. Which isn't outrageous coming from a British paper that has turned a yearly list of numbers into nearly a full-fledged business of its own. But what do I know? Just having a bit of fun.

Read the rest at the link. Congrats to POSCO, KAIST, and SNU. Wow, Pohang, Daejeon, Seoul. East coast, west coast, up north. We got a nice mix of locales in there.

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