Times Higher Education (THE) released their annual Asia University Rankings today, awarding the National University of Singapore (NUS) the top spot in Asia for the first time since the ranking system was created in 2013.
Japan’s foremost institution, the University of Tokyo, has plummeted from top spot in 2015 to seventh in this year’s rankings. Meanwhile, the University of Hong Kong – long considered one of Asia’s premier educational institutions – has fallen out of the top three to fourth place, a first for the prestigious university.
Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and China’s Peking University tied for second place to round out the top three.
Among the 13 indicators used in the rankings to measure performance are teaching quality, industry outcomes, citations, and international outlook. THE’s Asia University Rankings are not identical to their worldwide rankings. Although they use the same performance indicators, the categories are reweighted to more accurately reflect the attributes of Asia’s higher education systems, according to THE.
The Singaporean government’s heavy investments into its education system is credited as a key driver for its universities’ success, as the city-state cultivates human capital to compete globally in services, innovation, and ease of doing business.
While Singapore claimed highest honors, China is rapidly climbing the rankings
According to THE, China has overtaken the U.S. to hold the world’s most researchers – 19 percent of the total – and now accounts for 20.2 percent of global scientific publications.
In addition to Peking University in second place, mainland Chinese universities in the top 25 include Tsinghua University (5), the University of Science and Technology of China (14), Fudan University (19), and Zhejiang University (25).
Overall, both China and Japan had 39 universities in the top 200, though China had an impressive 22 in the top 100, compared to 14 for Japan.
While Peking University and Tsinghua University have long held sterling reputations, several other Chinese institutions primarily concentrated in Eastern China are rising in stature.
Other countries represented in the top 25 include South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, and Turkey. Overall, 22 different countries appear in the rankings, a large jump from only 14 in the previous year’s list. As a whole, Asia’s universities are increasingly prominent on the world stage, holding more positions in various publications’ top 100 worldwide rankings in 2016 than ever before.
By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Alexander Chipman Koty
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Assessing the economic impacts of COVID-19 on ASEAN countries
All ASEAN countries are dependent on tourism flows but Thailand is probably the most dependent.
Author: Jayant Menon, ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a human tragedy. Measures introduced to deal with the pandemic could save lives but are having wide-ranging economic effects and inducing economic contagion.
There are already studies estimating the economic impact of the virus. But greater focus is needed on the transmission mechanisms of the economic contagion and in critiquing how assessments of the economic impacts are made, concentrating on the ASEAN region.
The effects of COVID-19 are hitting ASEAN economies at a time when other risk factors, such as a global growth slowdown, were already rising.
COVID-19 is disrupting tourism and travel, supply chains and labour supply
Uncertainty is driving negative sentiment. This all affects trade, investment and output, which in turn affects growth. Tourism and business travel, as well as related industries, especially airlines and hotels, were the first to be affected. And the conditions are worsening as more countries go into shutdown.
The supply disruptions emanating mostly from China will reverberate throughout the value chain and disrupt production. Since China is the regional hub and accounts for 12 per cent of global trade in parts and components, the cost of the disruption in the short run will be high.
The negative effects of quarantine arrangements on labour supply could also be high depending on duration and sector. Manufacturing has been hit harder than service industries, where telecommuting and other technological aids limit the fall in productivity.
All these disruptions will lead to sharp declines in domestic demand. And their impact on economic growth will further propagate these disruptions. This compounding effect can magnify and extend short-run effects into the long run.
The highest economic cost could come from the intangibles
The effects of negative sentiment about growth and general uncertainty — which is already affecting financial markets — will feed into reduced investment, consumption and growth in the long run.
Rolling recessions around the world now appear inevitable, despite the stimulus measures being contemplated. If so, there will be sharp increases in unemployment and poverty. Some degree of decoupling from China, or de-globalisation in general, may also be a permanent reminder of this pandemic.
Among ASEAN countries, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are heavily integrated in regional supply chains and will be the most affected by a reduction in demand for the goods produced within them. Indonesia and the Philippines have been increasing supply chain engagement and will also not be immune.
Vietnam is the only new ASEAN member integrated into supply chains with China and is already suffering severe supply disruptions.
Given time, supply-side adjustments will alter trade and investment patterns. The main adjustment will involve relocating certain activities along the supply chain from China to ASEAN countries. Although the pandemic will disrupt the relocation phase, ASEAN countries can benefit from the new investments, mitigating overall negative impacts.
Thailand is probably the most tourism dependent Asean country
All ASEAN countries are dependent on tourism flows but Thailand is probably the most dependent. Cambodia and Laos receive most of their investment and aid from China, and a marked growth slowdown in China will affect them the most.
The Philippines and Mekong countries have large overseas foreign worker populations and restrictions on their movement or employment prospects as COVID-19 spreads will affect sending and receiving countries. Brunei and Malaysia are net oil exporters and the price war indirectly induced by the pandemic will hit them hard. Others will benefit from lower oil prices, as will the struggling transport sector.
In measuring the impacts of COVID-19, it is important to separate its marginal impact from observed outcomes. This is important because the remedy may vary depending on the cause of the disruption. This requires an analytical framework that can measure deviations from a baseline scenario that incorporates pre-existing trends. A model-based analysis, rather than casual empiricism, is required to reduce the problem.
Even before the outbreak, risks of a global growth slowdown were rising
The restructuring of regional supply chains had started, driven initially by rising wages in China and accelerated by the US–China trade war. While COVID-19 may further hasten the pace and extent of the restructuring, it is only partly responsible for what may happen. It would be misleading to attribute all of the current disruption to COVID-19. Had the trade war not preceded it, COVID-19 may have resulted in greater disruption to supply chains.
Any assessment of impacts must recognise that the spread of COVID-19 is unpredictable, and so too the response by governments. It is difficult to estimate the impacts of a shock that is uncertain in itself. This reiterates the need for rigorous modelling and scenario analyses. The current trend points to risks rising, often accelerating, as with previous epidemics. This uncertainty underscores the need for caution in assessing, and regular recalibration in producing assessments.
Jayant Menon is a Visiting Senior Fellow in the Regional Economic Studies Programme at the ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore.
A version of this article first appeared in ISEAS Commentary.
This article is part of an EAF special feature series on the novel coronavirus crisis and its impact.
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