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Korea University makes quantum leap towards world’s top 50
  • Writer : Communications Team
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  • Date : 2020-06-17

Korea University makes quantum leap towards world’s top 50

14 places up to 69th in QS World University Rankings 2021

First among local private universities for six consecutive years, 

and continuing upward trend for seventh year



Korea University makes quantum leap towards world’s top 50  14 places up to 69th in QS World University Rankings 2021



Korea University’s upward trend in world university rankings is continuing strong for the seventh year.


The university has performed well amidst stiff competition, and taken another step towards joining the world’s top 50.


In the QS World University Rankings 2021 by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Korea University climbed 14 places to 69th place—a notable improvement from the previous year.


Korea University has maintained its status as the first among local private universities for six consecutive years. It was first named among the world’s top 100 in 2017, and made it to the top 70 in just five years.


The results are especially significant in that the competitors were European universities with a long history and American universities supported by billions of dollars in funding.


This year’s QS World University Rankings evaluated a total of 5,546 universities based on six metrics: ▲ academic reputation ▲ citations per faculty ▲ faculty/student ratio ▲ employer reputation ▲ international faculty ratio, and ▲ international student ratio. Academic reputation was evaluated by collecting opinions from more than 94,000 experts, and employer reputation through a survey of over 44,000 employers and CEOs worldwide.


Key factor ① Employer reputation


In terms of employer reputation, Korea University climbed 18 spots to 41st place. The university has been highly reputed both locally and internationally, and is applauded for fostering talent essential in addressing the needs of society. In this year’s QS rankings, it proved itself by joining the ranks of top universities around the world.


The range of extracurricular activities allows students to engage in active communication, broaden their horizons, and even experience failure. In this process, students naturally gain the ability to plan projects, take action, communicate with others, and cooperate as a team. In other words, they become equipped with qualities that employers expect of employees. The knowledge and skills gained in university become valuable assets in the real world, and contribute to business performance.


By offering career development services for students, Korea University transforms individual student experiences and capabilities into job competitiveness, so as to support them in achieving their career goals. The career academy, which provides educational programs that enhance understanding of job duties, has been well-received by students. In addition, personalized one-to-one counseling is available for job-seeking students facing issues in career development. Students can attend interview clinics to prepare for job interviews, and request proofreading of their job application documents.


In sum, the enhanced reputation of Korea University graduates can be attributed to the vibrant academic atmosphere, excellent curriculum and extracurricular activities, and practical coaching on career development.


Key factor ② Academic reputation


In terms of academic reputation, Korea University rose 11 places to 75th.


Korea University is pursuing various projects to create a healthy research ecosystem that encourages giving back to society through practical research.


The university is exerting efforts to provide rational compensation based on both qualitative and quantitative evaluation. Researchers have access to proofreading services for papers to be submitted to international journals, and can receive grants for multidisciplinary research. The Future Research Grant (KU-FRG) promotes creative research that addresses unprecedented or difficult issues and supports settlement allowance for new faculty, major research grants, multidisciplinary research grants, basic and rare discipline grants, and international research cooperation support.


The Inseong Star Research Award, established in 2019, provides research funding for world-class researchers at Korea University. Also, the research coordinator (RC) system was introduced to provide strategic, organizational support for faculty research.


Based on the above, seven faculty members were named among Highly Cited Researchers (world’s top 1%), which is the highest proportion among local private universities. The university plans to continue improving its researcher-oriented research support system through more active support. It will focus on novel technology development from a long-term perspective, so as to establish a research quality management system and to create an open academy-industry cooperative system (open innovation) for sharing outcomes with companies. The establishment of the Graduate School of Artificial Intelligence will strengthen partnership with the world’s leading universities and research institutes. Korea University will continue to conduct research aimed at achieving UN-SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and resolve the various challenges faced by the international community.


Key factor ③ Citations per faculty


Korea University’s outstanding academic reputation is supported by the high number of citations per faculty.


The KU Research Information Analysis Center provides various analytical data to assist researchers in strategic decision-making. The wealth of materials covers analysis of the latest research trends, including exploring directions of KU-SDGs, benchmarking of research outcomes by research field, and information on outstanding researchers by research field.


Various channels such as Pure, KU Research, and Research Profile are being utilized to promote the university’s research outcomes, and opportunities for international research cooperation are available through researcher matching based on researcher network analysis.


Such efforts have enhanced the influential power of faculty and increased the number of citations per faculty. The surge in number of citations since 2011 has also been confirmed through SCOPUS data analysis. In particular, this was more prominent in the fields of chemistry, environment and ecology, engineering, pharmacology and toxicology, and multidisciplinary fields.


Key factor ④ International student ratio


Among the six metrics, international student ratio showed the most improvement by moving up 45 places. Having signed partnerships with 1,088 universities and institutes from more than 100 countries, Korea University boasts one of the most globalized campuses in Korea. The International Summer School and International Winter School attract more than 2,500 scholars and students from over 300 universities and more than 50 countries.


Globalization is a must in various areas, including research, education, and admissions. Since the early days, Korea University has worked on attracting international students through a special admission category for foreigners, Korean Language Center, International Summer School, and visiting student programs. The recent International Winter School was the largest among universities in Korea, demonstrating Korea University’s global competence.


In the past five years, the international students at Korea University have diversified from 30 countries to 60 countries. The proportion of Chinese students has decreased, while that of students from other countries has increased, leading to a more balanced distribution of nationalities. The rigorous admission process involves identifying outstanding talent from a database of overseas high schools, and candidates are thoroughly screened by experienced admissions officers. The rise in internationals students is not merely quantitative, as can be seen from the increase in the number of government-invited international scholars and the improved KU Global Friends scholarship policy.


Korea University has a department dedicated to the management of international students. The department resolves challenges that may arise from differences in educational background, lifestyles, and language barriers. International students can attend language exchange programs and free Korean language classes during school breaks. The university plays a role in laying the foundation for international talent of various nationalities to maintain connections with Korea after graduation. The international community helps to instill global thinking and open-mindedness in local students, and is part of the university’s vast global network.


The world’s top three universities were MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Stanford University, and Harvard University. Other leading universities in the top 30 were the University of Cambridge (7th), National University of Singapore (11th), Tsinghua University (15th), and the University of Tokyo (24th). As for private local universities, Yonsei University and Sungkyunkwan University trailed behind Korea University in the 85th and 88th place, respectively.


In the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020, Korea University saw the most subjects (27) joining the top 100 among local private universities. With four subjects being in the top 50, it solidified its position as a global university. Compared to other universities, it showed a more balanced performance across subject areas, with 13 subjects among the top 100 in humanities, and 14 in natural sciences. This reflects the fact that Korea University has pursued balanced development instead of limiting itself to specific areas.


Park Hee-deung, the Vice President for Planning and Budget, said, “The rankings show that Korea University’s reputation has improved overall with its move towards a world-class research-oriented university. We will contribute to sustainable development by strengthening our research and educational capacities.”


Comparison of top 5 local private university rankings in 2019/2020

<Comparison of top 5 local private university rankings in 2020/2021>

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