US dominates THE university rankings

October 03, 2013

The US continues to dominate the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings , with seven institutions in the top ten of the newly released 2013-14 listing, while several Asian nations have made significant gains in the Top 200.

Caption: The Times Higher Education World University Rankings

For the third consecutive year the California Institute of Technology, US, has been named as the top-ranking institution, with Harvard University, US, rising two places to second and the University of Oxford, UK, retaining third position.

American dominance of the 2013-14 listings is clear: seven universities in the top 10; 30 in the top 50; 46 of the top 100; and 77 in the top 200 listing (all slight improvements over last year’s rankings). The UK is the second most prevalent nation with 31 institutions in the top 200 and seven in the top 50. With 12 universities the Netherlands has the third largest presence in the top 200 list.

A notable trend within the US was the pre-eminence of Greater Boston, which, with two new entrants this year, achieved seven universities in the top 200 – more than most countries. Phil Baty, Editor of THE rankings, said this was part of a global pattern of clustering of excellent universities.

A similar trend was observed in the UK, where universities within the so-called ‘golden triangle’ between London, Oxford and Cambridge rose an average of six places, while UK institutions outside this zone fell an average of two places.

A number of flagship institutions across continental Europe slipped down the rankings in the 2013-14 list. Hans de Wit, Professor of Internationalisation of Higher Education at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, told THE a period of reduced funding was now taking effect. “The irony is that several governments made reference to the fact that their universities have so far maintained their position in the rankings, so there was no need for criticism of the lack of investment. This is now coming to the surface,” he said.

In contrast, Asia improved its showing, with six institutions in the top 50, an increase over five last time. The University of Tokyo rose four places to 23rd to maintain position as the continent’s highest ranked, and four of Japan’s five institutions in the top 200 rose, following several government-backed measures to increase internationalisation. Shigeharu Kato, Director General for International Affairs at Japan’s Ministry of Education told THE, “It appears that under these initiatives, many universities have succeeded in increasing their presence in the world through their efforts in promoting student exchanges and strengthening their networks with foreign institutions.”

There were also gains in Asia for: the National University of Singapore (up to 26th); Peking University, China (up to 45th); Nanyang Technological University, China (up 10 to 76th); Seoul National University, Korea (up 15 to 44th); and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (up 12 to 56th ). The rankings are calculated through a set of indicators within the areas of: international outlook (7.5 per cent weighting), research (30), citations (30), industry income (2.5) and teaching (30).

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