JUST seven Thai higher-education institutes have made it to the latest list of Asia’s best universities, despite the list being expanded to cover 200 spots.
Overall, the performance of Thai universities has noticeably dropped. None made the top 50 and just two made the top 100.
The best performer was Mahidol with a ranking of 90, followed by King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, which was ranked 50 two years ago and 55 last year but now sits at 98.
The remaining five Thai universities are in the bottom half of the rankings, with Chiang Mai in the 141-150 band, Chulalongkorn 151-160 and Suranaree University of Technology 161-170.
Khon Kaen and Prince of Songkla universities are in the 181-190 band.
Before this year, the prestigious Asia University Rankings by Times Higher Education covered the 100 best higher-educational institutes.
“It is disappointing that only seven Thai universities make this list of Asia’s best universities and that the country has not made more of a dent in the top half of the table,” Phil Baty, Times Higher Education rankings editor, said.
“Although the nation’s institutions have a stronger international outlook than many of their regional rivals, they score poorly on research environment.”
Times Higher Education believes Thailand’s universities have struggled to make progress in recent years, partly due to the political crisis of 2013-14 – resulting in less commitment by the government to invest in higher education.
“The Thai government’s National Research Universities Project has pumped money into its research institutions since 2009 and scientific publications have increased in recent years,” Baty said. “But the country’s political crisis in 2013-14 has held back the nation’s universities and the government has been less committed at investing in higher education than its fellow Asean member Singapore.
“This ranking is full of rising stars that are beginning to challenge many of the Western elites; Thailand cannot afford to get left behind.”
Times Higher Education pointed out that national initiatives designed to promote world-class universities had become commonplace across Asia. For example, China has implemented Project 985 with the aim of turning Peking University and Tsinghua University into “super-elite” institutions.
These two universities are ranked 2nd and 5th respectively on the Asia University Rankings 2016.
Peking University shares second spot with Nanyang Technological University from Singapore, which claimed first spot with the National University of Singapore.