US stagnation trend reflects in latest subject rankings
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023 by subject indicates that, although the US still tops nine of the 11 subject rankings, the number of US universities in the top 10 of several subject rankings has fallen, including business and economics, and clinical and health.
In contrast, the United Kingdom, which tops two of the rankings, increased its representation in the top 10, and Saudi Arabia increased its representation across several subject rankings, including computer science, engineering and physical sciences.
The UK’s King’s College London, for example, joins the top 10 in clinical and health and in psychology, and Saudi Arabia now has five universities in the top 300, up from two last year.
By contrast, Johns Hopkins University in the United States fell out of the top 10 in clinical and health (to 11th), and in engineering the US has nine fewer universities in the top 300 (76, down from 85).
Overall, in four of the subject rankings, the US and the UK are the only two nations represented in the top 10, that is, for arts and humanities, life sciences, psychology and social sciences.
Europe is the most represented continent in the top 300 for all subject rankings, followed by North America, while the US and the UK are the two most dominant countries across the top 300 for all subject rankings.
Spain is the country that has most improved its representation in the top 300 for education (with 10 universities ranked, up from five) and law (22, up from 14) rankings since last year.
According to a Times Higher Education (THE) press release, this US trend “mirrors what happened in the World University Rankings 2023, released earlier this month, where, despite still dominating the table in terms of overall representation, the US had some significant falls”.
Compiled from data taken from the THE World University Rankings 2023, the subject tables employ the same range of 13 performance indicators used in the overall ranking, brought together with scores provided under five categories. However, the overall methodology is recalibrated for each subject, with the weightings changed to suit the individual fields.
Commenting on the reasons behind the waning of traditional dominance in global higher education by the US, Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at THE, said: “It has been widely pointed out that federal spending on research and development in the US, as a proportion of total spending, is at a seven-decade low and we have witnessed worrying de-funding of America’s great state universities around the nation.
“It looks like this is all starting to take its toll on the US’s global competitiveness in research and innovation.”
Meanwhile, he said, East Asian nations, led by China, and countries in the Middle East, led by Saudi Arabia, “continue to strengthen in key areas”.
Baty described Saudi Arabia as a “stand-out winner” for its improvements in key strategic subject areas, including computer science, engineering and physical sciences, and attributed these gains to “a national commitment to invest in research and education as part of the national strategic Vision 2030”.
More details on the top 10 rankings per subject area derived from a THE press release are outlined below.
Arts and humanities
The US and UK are the only two countries represented in the top 10, with Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) retaining their first and second positions, respectively, followed by the universities of Cambridge and Oxford at third and fourth respectively (also unchanged from last year).
While Harvard University rises by one position, from sixth to fifth, and the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) rises from ninth to eighth, the University of Chicago drops two places from eighth to 10th.
Overall, US representation in the top 300 in this subject decreases, with 61 universities ranked, down from 67. Hong Kong Polytechnic University enters the top 100 in 73rd place, up from group band 101-125, while Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand joins the top 175 in group band 151-175, up from 201-250.
Business and economics
Only three countries are represented in the top 10 for business and economics: the US, the UK and China, with China rising to the top 10 for the first time as Tsinghua University climbs to eighth place from 11th.
In the United States, MIT retains the top spot which it shared last year with Stanford University, which slips down to second place. In the UK, the University of Oxford climbs from fourth last year to third, while the University of Cambridge drops from third to sixth, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) drops from ninth to 10th.
In the US, Harvard University climbs from fifth to fourth and the University of Chicago climbs from seventh to fifth, but UC Berkeley falls to seventh (from sixth) and Yale drops from eighth to ninth. Duke University drops out of the top 10, to 17th place (down from 10th).
Overall, China is now the third most represented country in the top 300 for business and economics, and King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia climbs into the top 100 in joint 63rd place, up from group band 126-150.
Clinical and health
Four countries feature in the top 10 for clinical and health: the UK, US, China and Canada, with the United Kingdom taking five of the 10 top spots, up from four last year.
The University of Oxford and Imperial College London retain their positions at first and fourth respectively and the University of Cambridge moves up from fourth to second. In the United States, Harvard University moves down to third to second place, while Stanford and Yale retain their positions at sixth and ninth respectively.
The UK’s King’s College London re-joins the top 10 in 10th place, up from 12th, while Johns Hopkins University in the US drops out of the top 10 into 11th place (down from joint ninth).
Overall, Iran now has five universities ranked in the top 300 in clinical and health, up from one last year, while Italy has nine universities ranked in the top 300, up from six.
Five countries are represented in the top 10 for computer science: the UK in the top spot (University of Oxford), the US (MIT at second, up from third, and Stanford at third, down from second), Switzerland (ETH Zurich at fourth), Singapore (the National University of Singapore climbs from joint eighth to seventh) and Germany (Technical University of Munich at 10th, up from 14th).
Overall, Saudi Arabia has five universities represented in the top 300, up from two, while China has lost three universities from the top 300 (17, down from 20).
Monash University in Australia leaps forward to 57th place, up from joint 93rd and Yonsei University (Seoul campus) in South Korea climbs into the top 100 at joint 82nd place, up from group band 176-200.
The US takes six spots in the top 10, including the top three positions (unchanged from 2022) held by Stanford, UC Berkeley and Harvard. Michigan State University in the US joins the top 10 in ninth place, up from 12th.
The University of Hong Kong rises one place, from joint sixth to fifth, and Peking University in China rises from eighth to seventh.
Two institutions from the United Kingdom feature in the top 10: Cambridge which rises from fifth to fourth and Oxford which drops from fourth to sixth.
Overall, the UK loses five universities from the top 300 in this subject, with 39 universities ranked, down from 44.
Overall, the University of Antwerp in Belgium joins the top 100 in the 61st spot, up from 101-125, while Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University leaps to 82nd place to join the top 100, up from group band 301-400.
Sorbonne University in France debuts in the top 100 in 92nd place, up from 201-250, and the University of Tartu in Estonia rises into the top 300 in group band 251-300, up from 401-500.
The United States dominates the top 10 for engineering, taking six positions, including the top four (Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley and MIT). The other four country spots are taken by the United Kingdom (Oxford fifth and Cambridge seventh) as well as the National University of Singapore, which rises from 10 to eighth position, and ETH Zurich in Switzerland, which drops from ninth to 10th.
Overall, Saudi Arabia and the UK increase their representation in the top 300 with seven Saudi Arabian universities ranked, up from four, and 37 UK universities in the top 300, up from 34.
The US loses nine universities from the top 300 with 76 universities represented, down from 85, while Sichuan University in China joins the top 100 in 66th place, up from group band 151-175, and Italy’s Politecnico di Milano leaps up to joint 74th place, up from 96th.
Five US universities feature in the top 10 for law, including Stanford (first), New York University (second, up from third), Yale (up from ninth to fifth), Harvard (up from seventh to sixth) and the University of Chicago, which re-joins the top 10, rising to 10th place from 13th.
In the UK, the universities of Cambridge and Oxford and LSE feature at third (down from second), fourth and joint seventh (down from 12th), respectively. The University of Melbourne in Australia drops from fifth place to joint seventh, while the National University of Singapore drops from eighth to ninth.
Overall, Italy’s University of Bologna leaps into the top 50 in 39th place, up from group band 101-125, while Northwestern University in the US drops out of the top 100 into group band 101-125, down from 45th place.
The University of Sheffield in the UK falls out of the top 100 into group band 101-125, down from joint 64th place, and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden joins the top 100 in joint 90th place, up from group band 176-200.
Universities in the United States clearly dominate in this subject, taking eight places in the top 10, with the other top spots going to universities in the United Kingdom (University of Cambridge at second and University of Oxford at fourth, down from joint third).
Harvard University retains the top position.
Overall, however, China makes progress, edging closer to the top 10 as Tsinghua University rises to 11th place from 13th, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University joins the top 100 in 67th place, up from group band 151-175.
Four UK universities lose their top 100 spots: University of Aberdeen (101-125, down from 95), University of Birmingham (101-125, down from joint 86th), University of East Anglia (101-125, down from joint 92nd) and University of Leeds (101-125, down from joint 96th).
Germany drops four universities from the top 300 with 26 universities represented, down from 30.
Switzerland is the only country outside of the UK and the US to make the top 10 in physical sciences, with ETH Zurich ranked in ninth position.
US universities fill the top six slots and the 10th, leaving two slots, seventh and eighth, for the universities of Cambridge and Oxford respectively. Princeton heads the list, rising from joint second to first, followed by UC Berkeley and MIT at joint second, the California Institute of Technology at fourth, Stanford at fifth (down from joint fourth) and Harvard at sixth. Columbia is at 10th, up from 13th.
Overall, the US has four fewer universities in the top 300 for physical sciences – 74, down from 78, while Saudi Arabia increases its representation in the top 300 with six universities ranked, up from two last year. King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia joins the top 50 in 47th place, up from joint 90th.
Only the US and UK have institutions in the top 10 (seven and three respectively), with Stanford University in the US taking the top spot (up from second last year) followed by the University of Cambridge in second spot (down from first).
The UK’s King’s College London enters the top 10 in eighth position, up from 12th, while the University of Chicago in the US drops out of the top 10, in 12th place, down from seventh.
The National University of Singapore joins the top 50 in joint 48th place, up from 58th, and Monash University in Australia jumps forward to 54th place and joins the top 100 (up from group band 151-175).
Spain loses three universities from the top 300 with four universities represented, down from seven.
Again, the US and UK are the only countries to feature among the top 10 universities for social sciences, with the US dominating with seven slots.
This year, the University of Oxford in the UK drops to third, losing the top spot to the US’s MIT, while the US’s Stanford University climbs from third to second.
Yale University in the US re-joins the top 10 in 10th position, up from 11th, while Austria’s University of Vienna joins the top 50 by jumping to joint 40th place, up from 65th.
Universiti Utara Malaysia enters the top 250 in group band 201-250, up from 401-500, and Middle East Technical University in Turkey joins the top 300 in group band 251-300, up from 401-500.
*All data supplied by Times Higher Education.