Varsity rankings show Malaysia has one of Asia’s strongest higher education systems

Malaysia boasts one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan international student cohorts, indicating it is an attractive study destination.


November 9, 2022

PETALING JAYA – Malaysia is home to one of Asia’s strongest higher education systems, according to the latest QS University Rankings: Asia 2023.

The latest edition of the rankings sees the country having the highest concentration of top-50 and top-100 universities in Asia.

Overall though, its rankings declined, with more drops than gains among the 36 institutions ranked. Of these, 12 improved, five remained stable and 19 declined.

Leading the pack is Universiti Malaya (UM) sitting in the 9th rank and is also Asia’s second-most well-regarded international research institution.

It is also the most well-regarded university among international employers and academics alike, according to QS’ reputation surveys.

It ranks among Asia’s top 10 for Employer Reputation and top 20 for Academic Reputation.

UM also produces Malaysia’s most impactful research, with its work in liver and heart disease garnering particular interest.

Coming in next in the rankings are Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia at 27th and 30th place respectively.

They are followed by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) which climbed from 35th to 32nd spot and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), which dropped a spot from 38th to 39th this year.

Taylor’s University is the top private university in Malaysia having climbed four spots to 49th.

The other private universities are Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) (68th), UCSI University (72nd), Sunway University (122nd), Universiti Tenaga Nasional (144th), Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (174th) and Management and Science University (177th) among the top 200 in Asia.

The 15th edition of the rankings notes that Malaysia’s institutions are intensely collaborative in terms of international research, but still struggle in terms of research quality and impact.

Malaysia is intensely collaborative in terms of cross-border research, with three universities among Asia’s top 10 for International Research Network, more than any other location featured in this ranking.

UPM’s research is supported by Malaysia’s highest staff expertise, according to the Staff with PhD indicator, in which it ranks 27th regionally.

Malaysia also boasts one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan international student cohorts, indicating it is an attractive study destination.

QS senior vice president Ben Sowter said Malaysia should invest in expanding its research capability and reform and simplify its immigration policy and visa rules to attract more international faculty members.

“The expansion and internationalisation of the higher education system will support Malaysia’s next stage of development.

“As Malaysia transitions to a high-income economy, to remain competitive, economic growth will need to be fuelled by technology and innovation,” he said in a statement on Tuesday (Nov 8).

For the first time in eight years, a Singaporean university does not rank first and Singapore does not dominate the top three.

Instead, China’s Peking University ranks first followed by the National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University, China.

Evaluating the region’s institutions based on academic and employer recognition, research, resources and internationalisation, this year’s Asia Rankings is the largest ever, featuring 760 universities.

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