China’s universities are rapidly closing the gap on the top global institutions, compilers of the latest Times Higher Education BRICS and Emerging Economies Rankings say. BRICS is the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The league table, published on 2 December, is dominated by China. Its universities captured first and second places, half the Top 10 and 39 places in the Top 200.
Taiwan is a distant also-ran, with 24 universities in the Top 200, while India has just 16.
Phil Baty, Times Higher Education, or THE, World University Rankings editor, said: “These rankings are based on the same established and trusted 13 performance indicators used to create the annual THE World University Rankings, but they are specially calibrated to reflect the development priorities of universities in emerging economies.
“This is a very impressive year for China and there are real signs now that universities in the People’s Republic are almost within touching distance of the traditional elite institutions in North America and Europe.”
He added: “For the emerging economies included this year, these rankings provide an extraordinary case study in what can be achieved in only a couple of decades, where significant money and political will can be brought to bear.
“It can’t be long now until China’s universities join the world upper ranks but there remains a question mark over whether governments in other markets have the sustained investment in their leading universities to match China’s performance.”
200 institutions now included
The 2015-16 rankings include 200 institutions from 35 countries, up from 100 from 18 countries last year. Full results and analysis here.
The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – performed particularly strongly, while a number of other emerging economies also had a good year.
In Central and South America, Brazil's University of São Paulo is in ninth place. Chile is represented by six universities (two last year) while Colombia has two universities included (one last year). The National Autonomous University of Mexico (23rd) is the highest ranked Latin American institution outside Brazil.
In South Asia, seven Thai universities are included in the Top 200 compared with three last year; Malaysia climbs from one university in 2014 to five this year, while Indonesian and Bangladeshi universities are included for the first time.
South Africa has two universities in the Top 10 – Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand, while Egypt returns to the ranking, having had no institutions represented last year. Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana enter the league table for the first time.
European countries appearing for the first time in the 2016 ranking include Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Estonia, Serbia, Cyprus and Greece. Middle Eastern nations represented for the first time include Jordan, Qatar and Oman.
The ranking is based on the THE World University Rankings data but weightings are reformulated to reflect the development priorities of universities in emerging economies. It uses 13 performance indicators and draws on an invitation-only academic reputation survey which elicited responses from more than 10,000 senior academics in 2014-15.
A measure of research excellence is derived from data supplied by Elsevier comprising 11 million research papers (up from six million last year) with 51 million citations (up from 50 million last year).
Despite identifying a number of broad trends, THE specifically warns against making comparisons with last year’s ranking because of methodological changes.
The Times Higher Education BRICS and Emerging Economies University Rankings 2015-16 Top 10 are: