US top, China rising in extended global ranking

United States universities again dominate the US News & World Report Rankings, claiming the five top spots for the first time and taking 210 places out of 1,000 research universities evaluated, expanded from 750 last year – from 65 countries.

Harvard University came top, followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of California-Berkeley and California Institute of Technology.

The US News & World Report Rankings claim to be the “largest, most comprehensive assessment of research universities worldwide”.

Robert Morse, chief data strategist at US News, said: “US universities do especially well in the Best Global Universities Rankings because they place an enormous emphasis on academic research – a key factor in our methodology since these are indicators that can be compared globally.”

In terms of the number of institutions ranked in the 1,000, the US came top with 210, followed by China (87), United Kingdom (68), Germany (55) and France (49).

Morse told University World News: “Proportionally, the US also stands as the top-performing country by a considerable margin with 21% of all ranked schools, down from about 24% in the 2016 edition of Best Global Universities.

“Another significant trend is that China showed gains this year with 87, or 8.7%, of schools ranked in the top 1,000, compared to 57, or 7.6%, ranked in the top 750 as part of the 2016 edition.”

Best Global Universities also has rankings by country, region and subject. In the 2017 edition, US News added six new country-specific rankings, including larger countries like Russia and smaller ones such as Poland and Egypt, bringing the total up to 38. Institutions are also assessed across 22 subjects.

By subject

Morse said: “The US is still the top performing country in each subject area – in some cases by a wide margin. China is increasing its academic influence in the engineering and computer science fields. Japan is strong in clinical medicine, coming in at second under that subject ranking.”

In four key subject areas the top performing countries with the most ranked institutions in those subject areas were:
  • • Clinical medicine: US, Japan, Germany, UK, Italy
  • • Computer science: US, China, UK, Canada, Germany
  • • Economics and business: US, UK, Canada, Australia, Netherlands
  • • Engineering: US, China, UK, Canada, Italy
The Best Global Universities methodology – which is based on Web of Science data and metrics provided by Clarivate Analytics InCitesTM – weighs factors that measure a university’s global and regional research reputation and academic research performance using bibliometric indicators such as publications, citations and international collaboration.

Each subject ranking has its own methodology based on academic research performance and reputation in that specific area.

By region

Four of the top five African universities were South African, with the University of Cape Town top, followed by the University of the Witwatersrand, University of KwaZulu-Natal and Stellenbosch University (all South African), and Cairo University (Egypt).

The top five Asian universities were the University of Tokyo (Japan), followed by the National University of Singapore, Peking University (China), Tsinghua University (China) and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore).

Among Australian and New Zealand universities, the top five were all Australian, led by the University of Melbourne, followed by the University of Sydney, University of Queensland, Monash University, and Australian National University and University of New South Wales tied on fifth place.

Among European universities, the UK took four of the top five places, with the University of Oxford leading the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Switzerland), which means all five are in countries leaving or outside of the European Union.

Among Latin American universities, Brazil took three of the top five spots, with Universidade de Sao Paulo (Brazil) top, followed by Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Brazil) and Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile (Chile).

This year, US News slightly adjusted its overall methodology to further emphasise excellence in academic research by factoring in the total number of highly cited papers in the top 1% of their respective fields and the percentage of a university’s total papers that are among the top 1% of most-cited papers.