Top 10 fastest rising universities aged 50 and under

Making their mark.

1 November 2019

Gemma Conroy


Hongsoo Choi (left) Seong Woong Jeon (right) Jin-young Kim (middle) at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology.

Age isn’t the only factor in cultivating institutions known for high-quality research. Nature Index’s 10 fastest rising young universities (aged 50 and under) have made impressive gains in their research output since 2015, as measured by fractional count (FC).

The top four fastest rising young universities in the world are all from China, with the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences taking the top spot.

Founded in 1978, this university’s output has more than doubled between 2015 and 2018, making it the leading young university in the physical sciences and a strong player in chemistry. It’s also the highest ranked young university overall.

The Shenzhen-based Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) takes second place among the 10 fastest rising universities under 50.

With its budget increasing from 153 million yuan in 2015 to 600 million yuan (US$87.8 million) in 2017, SUSTech’s investments are paying off. Since 2015, SUSTech has more than quadrupled its contribution to the Nature Index, with strength in chemistry and rapid growth in the physical sciences.

Japan’s Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) * , ranked fifth, is also rising up the ranks as the fastest growing young university outside China. One of the most diverse institutions in Japan, OIST was also among the top 10 normalized academic institutions in the Nature Index for 2018, thanks to its strength in the life sciences.

The Queensland University of Technology in Australia is hot on its heels, followed by South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology.

Saudi Arabia made an appearance among the top 10, with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in ninth place, followed by the University of Macau in China in tenth place.

Below are the top 10 fastest rising young universities in the Nature Index.

Mouse over to see full names, locations, and fractional counts:

  • Disclosure: David Swinbanks, founder of the Nature Index, is on the OIST board of councillors. He had no editorial input for this article.


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