As many as 23 Pakistani universities have been named among the top 500 higher education institutes in Asia in the latest QS Asia University Rankings 2019 released on October 24 (Wednesday). The annual ranking by world leading ranking authority Quacquarelli Symonds has been expanded this year to include the top 500 universities in Asia.

National University of Singapore, one of the leading institutes of higher learning in the world, was named the top university in Asia for 2019, dethroning previous year’s winner Nanyang Technological University from the number one spot. NTU itself dropped two places to be jointly ranked third with Tsinghua University, which is the number one university in China for 2019. The second spot was claimed by The University of Hong Kong that climbed three places from previous year’s ranking. China’s other leading university, Peking University wrapped up the top five list.

Local Leaders

For Pakistan, there was some good news, as the number of Pakistani universities in the top league climbed to 23 from previous year’s number of just 16. The leader among Pakistani universities, however, remained the same. National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) was again declared the top university in Pakistan in QS Asia University Rankings 2019. Besides leading the Pakistani brigade, NUST also attained individual improvement by climbing four places, moving up to 87 on the list from last year’s 91st position. NUST also happens to be the 417th best university in the world according to QS global rankings. NUST’s research output is rated “very high” and it scored high marks for faculty-student ratio and employer reputation.

The second position in the list for Pakistan went to Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) that was placed 95th in the ranking. LUMS also went up the ranking compared to 2018, when it was placed at the 103rd spot. Together, NUST and LUMS are the only two Pakistani universities among the top 100 in the QS Asia University Rankings 2019.

Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad was at the third position for Pakistan, placed 109th among the top 500 Asian universities. QAU also showed improvement, as it was ranked 133rd in 2018 ranking. It was followed by COMSATS Institute of Information Technology at the 135th spot and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) at the 146th. COMSATS climbed 55 places, up from last year’s 190th place in the ranking, while PIEAS lost some of its lustre as it fell to the 146th place from last year’s 128th.

UET Lahore, University of The Punjab and Aga Khan University were the other three Pakistani universities among the top 200 institutes in Asia, claiming the 171st, 193rd and 195th positions, respectively. All three improved in stature, as they were ranked 200th, 232nd and 234th, respectively, in the 2018 ranking.

New Entrants

Besides the 16 universities that were included in the 2018 list, there were seven new entrants from Pakistan in the QS Asia University Rankings 2019. These included Bahria University Islamabad and International Islamic University Islamabad (IIU) in 351-400 band and University of Sargodha and University of Sindh in the 401-450 band. Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), University of Central Punjab (UCP) and University of Management and Technology Lahore (UMT) in the 451-500 band.


But accompanied with the reassuring news of new names making into the exclusive list were bad indicators of several universities slipping down the rankings when compared to their last year’s place on the list. In fact almost half of the Pakistani universities featured in 2018 list saw their ranking decline. These included, besides PIEAS, University of Karachi (from 193rd place to 251-260 band), Institute of Space Technology (from 271-280 band to 351-400 band), NED University of Engineering and Technology (from 301-350 band to 351-400 band), The University of Lahore (from 301-350 band to 401-450 band), University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore from (301-350 band to 401-450 band)and Mehran University of Engineering & Technology from (351-400 band to 401-450 band).

While the universities exhibiting gains and others making it into the list for the first time must be lauded for their continued struggle for improvement, authorities like the Ministry of Higher Education and the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan must look into the reasons why other universities traded their previous higher places in the ranking for lower tiers.

Nipping the fault in the bud must be the way to go to curb further declines.


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