The global ranking of several top Taiwanese universities appeared to be on the decline, a recent survey released by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China showed.
The results showed that the ranking of a number of the nation’s “first-tier universities” — which together receive NT$50 billion (US$1.5 billion) in subsidies from the Ministry of Education every five years — either declined or was unchanged.
National Taiwan University (NTU), which formerly ranked among the top 150 universities worldwide, slid to those ranked between 151 and 200, while National Cheng Kung University’s ranking fell from the top 300 to the top 400, the survey showed.
National Yang Ming University fell out of the list, it showed.
On the other hand, China Medical University, which previously ranked between 400th and 500th, ascended to the top 400 category, representing the biggest improvement among the nation’s universities that made the list.
Harvard University continued to dominate the chart, claiming the top spot for the 13th consecutive year, followed by Stanford University.
The University of Tokyo and Kyoto University in Japan were considered the best academic institutes in Asia, taking the No. 21 and No. 26 spots respectively.
According to researchers, the ranking was created based on how many Nobel prize laureates or Nobel prize-worthy academics there are at an institute, as well as the number of highly cited researchers and the number of papers published by international academic journals, with an emphasis on the number of dissertations published by each university.
NTU professor of library and information science Huang Mu-hsuan (黃慕萱), a long-time researcher of appraisals on academic performance, said the ranking is heavily influenced by its grading criteria.
Likening the ranking to an “arms race” in which theses play a pivotal role, she said that academic institutes are required to choose their thesis topics carefully and invest their efforts wisely to boost their performance on the list.
Citing China Medical University as an example, she said the university scored significantly higher this year thanks to the number of citations it received, indicating that the school has chosen the researchers it works with and its fields of research wisely.
She said the sliding performance of first-tier schools serves as a warning, and that the academia should focus on research methodologies as much as the quality of dissertations.
This would require the nation’s higher education facilities to utilize their resources more efficiently, or their rankings could continue to decline, Huang said.
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