The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology beat the University of Hong Kong to become the territory’s top institute of higher education, according to the 2015 QS World University Rankings.

HKUST climbed 12 places from last year’s 40th to 28th, while HKU fell from 28th to 30th. In 2011, HKU placed 22nd on the QS league tables, falling in subsequent years to 23rd in 2012 and 26th in 2013.

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HKUST on the left and HKU on the right

The QS World University Rankings, published by British education company Quacquarelli Symonds, is one of the most widely known rankings of tertiary institutes worldwide.

Researchers measured universities in five areas. Academic reputation and employer reputation took up 40 per cent and 10 percent of the overall rankings respectively. Student-to-faculty ratio, proportions of international faculty and proportions of international students constituted 20 per cent, 5 per cent and 5 per cent of the final results respectively.

This year researchers added a new indicator, citations per faculty, which measures schools’ influence on academic research. This indicator contributed 20 per cent to overall rankings.

university rankings
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US was the top university in the world, followed by Harvard University. The University of Cambridge and Stanford University shared the third place.

Asia’s best university was the National University of Singapore, which ranked 12th worldwide.

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The Tsinghua University arch. Photo:

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University followed in 13th place while China’s Tsinghua University was named Asia’s third best university, ranking 25th worldwide.

HKUST and HKU were the only two Hong Kong universities to make it to the top 50. The Chinese University of Hong Kong fell from last year’s 46th to 51st.

City University improved significantly from 108th to 57th, while the Polytechnic University rose from 162nd to 116th. Baptist University climbed from 318th to 281st.

In a press release, QS said Hong Kong is “at the forefront of Asia’s higher education industry.”

“Hong Kong has a lot going for it,” QS head of research Ben Sowter said: “geographic location at the heart of Asia; status as a gateway to China; highly international universities with a history of operating and publishing in English and a clear capability to operate effectively across disciplines, despite the traditional pressure from governments and rankings to prioritise STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics].”

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.