Tertiary Education

Malaysia Dominates in Top ASEAN University Rankings

UCSI University landed in the top 10 private universities
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Overall, an impressive half of the top 10 private and top 10 public universities in the whole of Southeast Asia are found right here in Malaysia.

As reported in December 2023 by the news portal for Professionals in International Education, Malaysian universities have notched significant successes in the latest ASEAN private university rankings and newly introduced public university rankings. Spearheaded by QS veterans, AppliedHE (Applied Higher Education), released its rankings in late 2023, which saw Malaysian institutions securing the top spot in both domains, with six in the top 10 for private universities and four in the public university top 10.

The National University of Malaysia (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, UKM), based in Bangi, claimed the number one position among public universities, while Sunway University in Kuala Lumpur emerged as the top private institution in ASEAN.

Sunway University took the #1 spot in the private university rankings in ASEAN

Pieter Stek, a special adviser at AppliedHE, noted, “Malaysian universities perform consistently well across all indicators.” This commendable performance is likely attributed to Malaysia’s abundant resources, boasting relatively high income levels and a large, internationally competitive higher education sector that attracts additional funding.

Stek added, “For their size, Singapore and Brunei also perform exceptionally well.” Brunei, with two of its 11 universities in the rankings, saw Universiti Brunei Darussalam and Universiti Teknologi Brunei securing the eighth and ninth positions in the Public Universities Top 20. Singapore’s National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University secured the second and fourth positions, respectively, in the same ranking.

“For other data, such as students’ views of teaching and learning and community engagement, as well as employability, we used estimates based on data submitted by other universities or national statistics,” Stek added. 

This is the first year that AppliedHE has included a public university ranking in its system – something which, Stek said, was always the intention since the rankings’ inception. “The important thing to note is that we rank public and private universities separately, which we believe better represents their different missions and funding models,” Stek noted. 

Initially, 40 universities submitted data for the ranking, with additional information compiled for non-reporting universities from public sources such as media coverage and research output. For certain data, like students’ views of teaching and learning, community engagement, and employability, estimates were used based on data submitted by other universities or national statistics.

AppliedHE introduced a public university ranking for the first time, aligning with its original intention since the rankings’ inception. Stek emphasized, “The important thing to note is that we rank public and private universities separately, which we believe better represents their different missions and funding models.”

The National University of Malaysia (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) ranked #1 among ASEAN’s public universities

Indonesia also made a strong presence in both private and public tables. Its institutions secured sixth and 10th to 12th positions in the private table and third, 11th to 13th, 15th, 16th, and 18th positions in the public table. The rankings consider various factors, with 40% weighted on the quality of teaching and learning, 15-20% on employability, and other factors such as community engagement, reputation, research, and internationalization.

Mohammad Shatar bin Sabran, CEO of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency, emphasized the significance of AppliedHE in focusing on the quality of teaching and learning, employability, and future careers. He noted that these rankings are particularly relevant to Malaysian students and parents when deciding where to study.


The top 10 private rankings featured Sunway, Krirk University (Thailand), UCSI University (Malaysia), Taylor’s University (Malaysia), Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur, Bina Nusantara University (Indonesia), Asia Metropolitan University (Malaysia), Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (Malaysia), Paragon International University (Cambodia), and Universitas Teknokrat Indonesia.

In the public rankings, the top 10 included UKM, NUS, IPB University (Indonesia), Nanyang, Mahidol University (Thailand), University Putra Malaysia, Universiti Malaya, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Universiti Teknologi Brunei, and Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Congratulations to so many of Malaysia’s excellent public and private universities for these superb real-world results and standard-setting rankings!

To learn more, visit www.thepienews.com/news.

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