United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain has been ranked as the top university in the country, according to a global ranking report.
The UAE’s former number one education institute, Khalifa University, slipped to second place.
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020, released on Wednesday, listed UAEU in the 301-350 bracket, indicating an improvement from the university’s 351-400 position last year.
Meanwhile, Khalifa University dropped in ranking slightly, from the 301-350 bracket last year to 351-400 this year.
In its 16th year, the list, which is compiled annually by Times Higher Education, includes more than 1,300 universities from 91 countries, making it the largest higher education analysis to date.
UAEU had been steadily improving in the THE ranking for years, jumping from the 501-600 bracket in 2017 to the 351-400 band last year.
Prof Mohamed Albaili, vice chancellor of UAEU, said the improvement was a result of the university’s accredited programmes, scientific research and future studies.
“Our aspiration is for UAEU to become ‘the University of the Future’ … by encouraging and supporting excellence and creativity in the fields of scientific research and technology,” he said.
“This achievement is a result of the outstanding efforts of our faculty, researchers, staff and students, all working as one team. The University will continue in its pursuit of excellence to be among the top 200 universities in the world.”
Saeed Ghobash, chancellor of UAEU, echoed Prof Albaili’s statements, saying the university aimed to hold on to its top position.
“UAEU will continue to develop its graduate studies programs to ensure their high quality, to meet the needs of the society and to be one of the best research and academic universities,” Mr Ghobash said.
Khalifa University — which was founded in 2007 following a decree from President Sheikh Khalifa — was named the top UAE university by the THE world rankings in 2016, after merging with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and the Petroleum Institute Abu Dhabi. The university then shot up to the 301-350 bracket in 2017 after being ranked in the 501-600 band the year before.
Four institutions from the Emirates were included in the THE World University Rankings this year, the same number since 2018, despite a significant overall increase in the number of universities included.
University of Sharjah made a big leap, rising from 801-1000 last year to 601-800 this year.
American University of Sharjah also made the list, ranking in the same position as the year prior – in the 801-1000 band.
UAEU and Khalifa University consistently rank highly within the Middle East and Asia. Both were listed among the top 50 in Asia for the first time in the THE Asia University Rankings 2019 in May.
The rankings placed four of the country's universities in its list of the best 417 institutes across the region.
Khalifa University, which was already in the top 50, remained the Emirates' top-ranked institute, rising four spots to position 28.
UAE University jumped from 71 to 49, giving the country two top 50 entries for the first time.
Saudi Arabia also had a strong showing in the global list released on Wednesday with two universities making the regional top five: King Abdulaziz University and Alfaisal University respectively. The Kingdom had seven universities included in the Mena regional table.
The Mena region increased its representation from 21 to 108 institutions in total this year but experts said there was more yet to be done.
“The investment being made by many countries in the Mena region is slowly but surely allowing their universities to offer funding and facilities to rival the rest of the world,” said Elli Bothwell, THE rankings editor.
“In many cases, the next challenge is to make use of these resources to provide a culture of academic excellence and rigorous standards.”
Globally, the University of Oxford maintained its top spot for the fourth year in a row, with rival University of Cambridge dropping to third place behind the California Institute of Technology. Switzerland was the only country outside the UK and North America to breach the top 20, with ETH Zurich coming in joint 13th place, down two from last year.
The THE World University Rankings judges research-intensive universities across each of their core missions: teaching; research; citations; industry income (knowledge transfer); and international outlook (staff, students, research).
Source: The National