A week after the QS World University Rankings were published, it is the turn of the youngest institutions to take the limelight

The third ranking of the top 50 universities under 50 years old shows the extent to which youthful institutions – especially in Asia – are challenging the established Western elite. The four leading universities all appeared in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings and a dozen were in this year’s top 200.

The ranking also confirms the rise of technological universities that was a feature of the overall ranking last week. The top four are all specialists of this type.

There is a new leader in Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which was second last year. NTU has exchanged places with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which suffered in all this year’s rankings, like the other Hong Kong universities, from being required to take a double cohort of students in the transition to four-year degrees.

Two Korean universities – KAIST, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) – have moved up to third and fourth place respectively. For the first time, there are no European institutions in the top five, although Maastricht University and Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona make the top ten.

Some of the movement is caused by universities reaching the 50-year benchmark and dropping out of the ranking. Four of last year’s Top 50 Under 50 are in this position, including Warwick, in third place. Four of the universities in this year’s ranking (the University of California, Irvine; Simon Fraser; Umeå and Newcastle) will suffer the same fate in 2015.

The age threshold allows more universities to enjoy the attention that the ranking brings, however. L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Heriot-Watt, James Cook and Deakin are all new to the ranking this year.

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