Who’s the Next M.I.T.?

2012-06-05 2,833

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Who’s the Next M.I.T.?
                                                                                                                          By JOYCE LAU

HONG KONG — There is one element that links the schools that top university rankings: They tend to be old.

Last week, two new rating systems — from Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings — looked exclusively at schools less than 50 years old for the first time.

Fifty may be middle age in some circles, but is positively adolescent for a university. Times Higher Education claims that its list “provides a unique insight into who the future Harvard and Cambridge universities may be.”

The magazine released its “100 Under 50” list last Thursday. The top spot went to the Pohang University of Science and Technology, or Postech, in South Korea. While only No. 53 in the regular rankings, it had “made staggering progress with the backing of significant private investment” and strong political support,” the magazine said.

Also highly ranked were the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland; the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST); the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST); Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France; and the Irvine and Santa Cruz campuses of the University of California. Three British institutions — the University of York, Lancaster University and the University of East Anglia — rounded out the top 10.

Hong Kong took top honors in the QS “Top 50 Under 50” list published Tuesday. The Chinese University of Hong Kong and HKUST were in first and second place, with City University of Hong Kong in ninth. Asian schools, particularly technological institutes, dominated. The two Korean schools that did well on the Times Higher Education list — KAIST and Postech — also make the QS top 10. Nanyang Technological University in Singapore came in fourth.

“Asian economies have continued to boom in recent years, meaning that while many Western nations have implemented austerity measures in the wake of the recession, countries such as Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore have actually increased university funding,” said Danny Byrne, editor of, the QS ranking’s Web site.

The United States, usually a world powerhouse, had a mediocre showing among new schools. It had only two in the QS top 50 and nine in the Times Higher Education top 100.

Britain had eight new schools on the QS list and 20 on the Times Higher Education list.

The BRIC developing nations — Brazil, Russia, India and China — barely featured. Only Brazil made an appearance with two schools on the Times Higher Education list and one on QS’s. “There are many issues to be overcome before they are operating at the level of leading young Asian universities,” Mr. Bryne said of BRIC institutions.

Russia, India and mainland China had no schools on either list.