Top local universities, including the University of Hong Kong, have slipped in the latest QS World University Ranking by subjects after unrest rocked campuses.
The Chinese University and Polytechnic University also fell in 2020 rankings compiled by global higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds, which compared performances of 13,138 university programs at 1,368 universities around the world.
HKU remained the best-performing university in the SAR, with 30 of its 39 programs ranked among the world's top 50.
But it was "beginning to decline," according to the British company. It fell in 21 out of 39 subject rankings and improved its rank in only seven.
Dentistry remained its top-ranked subject in fourth position - unchanged from last year.
Law ranked 19th, one position down, while social policy and administration fell from 15th to 20th.
But development studies jumped from 40th to 20th, making it one of the subjects with the best improvement.
The HKU decline was not an isolated occurrence, it was noted.
CUHK fell in 12 of its 37 subject tables and improved in only eight.
Polytechnic U fell in six of its 24 subject tables and rose in three. Its top-ranked subject, hospitality and leisure management, fell from fifth to seventh.
The University of Science and Technology improved in seven of its 17 ranked subjects and fell in only four.
In total, 161 programs at universities in the SAR featured across the 48 subject rankings. Thirty of these programs made improvements, and 51 dropped in rankings.
Hong Kong, with four programs in the global top 10 list, still outperformed larger regional neighbors - South Korea, Japan and India. But it lost to Singapore, which saw a boost to eight programs.