The University of Hong Kong has been knocked from the top spot by the University of Science and Technology in a local public opinion poll. It is the first change to the ranking in the last 15 years. Experts said HKU’s political controversies may have caused the slide.
The ranking, released by education website Education18.com last week, was based on an independent opinion survey by HKU Public Opinion Programme covering the city’s universities. It involved 1,222 Cantonese speakers aged 18 or above.
But HKU kept top spot in three other categories on the website, which looked at factors like the quality of teaching and research and the opinion of secondary school principals.
HKUST received the highest public opinion score after coming third for the last 15 years, while HKU fell to third after ranking first for the last 15 years. For the 16th year, Chinese University of Hong Kong came second.
A spokeswoman said HKUST was “elated” with its placing, and would keep promoting innovation and scientific research. HKU would continue working on its international reputation, according to a spokeswoman.
Programme director Robert Chung Ting-yiu said HKU’s drop in the poll could have been caused by the university’s involvement in the city’s recent political turmoil, such as students and professors leading the Occupy Central movement of 2014.
“[Some] could have felt that the university’s students and professors did not handle matters [related to Occupy Central] well, while those against the establishment could have felt the university did not do well in its governance, such as the appointment of council chairman [Arthur Li Kwok-cheung],” he explained.
But Chung also pointed out that the performance scores across all the universities had been falling since 2014, as they faced similar political challenges.