Asian university rankings released by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) last week were once again void of any Vietnamese universities on the top-200 list.
QS said in a statement that the rankings highlighted the continued dominance of Japanese universities, with 11 countries represented in the top 200, and the success of Hong Kong's increasingly internationalized institutions, which take three out of the top four places.
Experts generally agree that the QS rankings reflect the levels of economic growth among Asian nations, with 56 Japanese universities on the list, 42 from South Korea and 40 from China.
Measuring factors include the quality of research through citations, the proportion of international students and staff, graduate employability, and teaching quality.
Dr. Kai-ming Cheng, professor at the University of Hong Kong, said the score findings demonstrated the general situation in Hong Kong.
"It has been a tradition here that institutions recruit internationally even at the assistant professor level," said Cheng, who is also a member of the Vietnam Transnational Group, which was established in March by Hoa Sen University and Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City (VNU-HCMC) to examine Vietnam's educational issues from international perspectives.
Dr. Vu Thi Phuong Anh, from the VNU-HCMC's Center for Educational Testing and Quality Assessment, said the fact that no Vietnamese universities made the rankings does not mean they are falling behind.
Dr. Anh noted that the QS rankings work on indicators which are largely based on international reputation and international composition of the staff and student body.
"Our universities are still having trouble building their brands," she said. "And we still haven't secured an international reputation compared to others in the region."
There is a potential for major Vietnamese universities, particularly members of the Vietnam National University systems in Hanoi and HCMC, to reach the top 200 in the future, but the focus now should be on improving academic strength, not on ratings, Anh said.
Dr. Cheng said such internalization efforts similar to Hong Kong institutions take time to develop.
"I have been in Vietnam and see very energetic institutions up and coming," he said. "I think given time they will be recognized as prominent institutions in the world. Of course, it is not only a matter of ranking. Ranking is indicative of a much deeper development."
The QS Asian rankings are part of the QS World University Rankings, which have been running since 2004.