A week after the QS World University Rankings were published, it is the turn of the youngest institutions to take the limelight.

The third ranking of the top 50 universities under 50 years old shows the extent to which youthful institutions – especially in Asia – are challenging the established Western elite. The four leading universities all appeared in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings and a dozen were in this year’s top 200.

The ranking also confirms the rise of technological universities that was a feature of the overall ranking last week. The top four are all specialists of this type.

There is a new leader in Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which was second last year. NTU has exchanged places with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which suffered in all this year’s rankings, like the other Hong Kong universities, from being required to take a double cohort of students in the transition to four-year degrees.

Two Korean universities – KAIST, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) – have moved up to third and fourth place respectively. For the first time, there are no European institutions in the top five, although Maastricht University and Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona make the top ten.

Some of the movement is caused by universities reaching the 50-year benchmark and dropping out of the ranking. Four of last year’s Top 50 Under 50 are in this position, including Warwick, in third place. Four of the universities in this year’s ranking (the University of California, Irvine; Simon Fraser; Umeå and Newcastle) will suffer the same fate in 2015.

The age threshold allows more universities to enjoy the attention that the ranking brings, however. L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Heriot-Watt, James Cook and Deakin are all new to the ranking this year.

Asian Universities Dominate QS Top 50 Under 50



Asian universities dominated this year’s QS Top 50 Under 50 ranking, as some of the leading British and American universities founded in the 1960s ceased to be eligible for the exercise.

The top five in the ranking, which is restricted to universities established in the past 50 years, were all from Asia. For the second year in a row, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was top and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University second.

With Warwick University dropping out having celebrated its 50th anniversary, Kaist, the Korea Advanced Institute of Technology, moved up to third, ahead of City University of Hong Kong and the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), also from South Korea. Maastricht University, in the Netherlands, was the leading European representative in sixth place, followed by the top American foundation, the University of California, Irvine.

The ranking, which was published for the second time, underlined the scale of Asia’s investment in higher education over recent decades. Hong Kong UST was established only in 1991 and, despite the advantages enjoyed by older institutions, is already 34th in the overall QS World University Rankings. The leading 11 young universities all appeared among the top 200 of all ages in 2013.

In addition to Warwick, Lancaster, Macquarie and Essex universities dropped out of this year’s ranking on grounds of age. This year’s table included four universities founded in 1965, six from 1966, and one from 1967, so there will be at least 11 new entrants over the next three years.

Ben Sowter, head of research at QS said: “The dynamic nature of this ranking makes it an interesting comparison with our global and regional rankings. In an industry where a longer history is often seen as more desirable, universities which have been established for longer often hold reputational advantages over younger institutions. By focusing on the performance of these younger institutions alone, the list aims to spot the up-and-coming higher education powerhouses in the global arena.”

There were six new entrants in the 2013 ranking: two from Australia and one each from Israel, Portugal, Spain and the US. Ben Gurion University of the Negev was the highest new entrant, in 39th place.

Despite having only one university in the top 20 – the University of Technology, Sydney – Australia boasted the largest number of institutions in the ranking, with eight. Spain came next with five. Mr Sowter said: “Whilst Asian institutions may dominate the top of the list today, Australia’s many young institutions may close the gap shortly.”

The QS Top 50 under 50 is based on results from the QS World University Rankings 2013/14, using all six of the measures in the broader exercise. The full ranking is available at

50 under 50

QS Top 50 Under 50: Out 30th January

The first global university rankings of 2014 will be published next week, when QS unveils the second edition of its top 50 universities under 50 years old.

There is certain to be considerable movement in the upper reaches of the table because three of last year’s top 20 – Warwick, Lancaster and Macquarie – were already 49 years old and will no longer be eligible for the ranking. The universities concerned and others that will drop out of the ranking over the next few years were established in the 1960s, as governments -particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom – set about expanding access to higher education.

The QS Top 50 Under 50 was created to draw attention to the achievements of institutions that consider themselves at a disadvantage when competing with longer-established universities in the normal rankings. The well-entrenched reputations and extensive facilities enjoyed by universities dating back a century or more help them to dominate the QS World University Rankings and others like them. Only three universities under 50 years old appeared in the QS top 100 in 2013.

Younger universities have welcomed an additional opportunity to demonstrate their quality. Some were established only in the 1990s.

The Top 50 Under 50 will kick off a busy rankings season, with the QS World University Rankings by Subject following next month. There may be a further increase on the 30 subjects ranked last year, which ranged from the humanities to the sciences and included vocational subjects such as education.

Harvard dominated the 2013subject rankings, although the Massachusetts Institute of Technology proved its strength in engineering and technological subjects. The addition of agriculture brought in a variety of new institutions, including the University of California, at Davis, which topped the ranking, as well as featuring among the top ten universitiesunder 50 years old.

Polling has already begun among academics and employers for the tenth anniversary edition of the QS World University Rankings, which will be published in the autumn.Last year’s record totals of 62,000 academics and 28,000 employers responding to the two surveys may well be exceeded this year.

Before then, regional rankings will be published for Asia and Latin America, and the inaugural BRICS ranking will be updated.