China Leaps Ahead of UK, Germany in Global Rankings Education Articles

Best Universities In The World 2016: United States Tops List Of Global Schools Over China, UK


Harvard University was ranked No. 1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of 2016 Best Global Universities. Getty Images

US research universities dominate US News & World Report's second annual global higher education rankings, and an expansion in the numbers of institutions included this year helped to catapult China into the No 2 slot, ahead of the United Kingdom and Germany.

Meanwhile, the UK's Oxford and Cambridge universities were the only non-US universities to land in the top 10, at fifth and sixth, respectively. In all, the rankings featured 750 institutions, up from 500 last year, spread across 57 countries. 

US News, which began ranking US universities more than 30 years ago, last year entered the global fray citing a need for internationally comparable information as growing numbers of students seek to earn a college degree outside of their home country and growing numbers of universities seek to internationalise their student bodies. The magazine also views its rankings as a new tool for universities to benchmark themselves against institutions in their country and region.

It adds to an increasingly crowded field of rankers, including the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and QS World University Rankings. The Academic Ranking of World Universities, launched in 2003 by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, was the first global ranking. 

"As international education continues to be evolve, US News will be at the forefront of the conversation," US News Managing Editor of Education Anita Narayan said in a press release. 

It's a way for universities to "become more visible on the world stage and find top schools in other countries to consider collaborating with", said Robert Morse, chief data strategist at US News. Noting that the American higher education model of research institutions "is being copied by many other countries", Morse said US News "can help put these global trends in context". 

Ellen Hazelkorn, whose Rankings and the Reshaping of Higher Education was released this year, sees a different message. She sees the US News foray into a global arena as a "clear acknowledgement that US universities can no longer say – as they have often told this author – that global rankings 'do not really affect us'".

US universities "can no longer (pretend to) remain above and beyond the global", Hazelkorn, president of the European Association for Institutional Research, wrote in an email to University World News. "The real message to take from the [US News] Global Rankings is less about what it says about the global and more about the comparative and competitive status of the US." 

The rankings, culled from a pool of 1,000 contenders, were derived from data provided by Thomson Reuters InCites research analytics solutions, Web of Science and other publicly available sources. 

They were based on 12 indicators, with 25% of the overall methodology tied to findings of an Academic Reputation Survey. The survey, conducted in 10 languages, asked higher education leaders to assess programmes in disciplines with which they were familiar. Other key factors were related to publications, citations in scholarly journals, international collaboration and number of PhDs awarded. 

Though there is some overlap in results, the methodology for US News global rankings differs from its domestic rankings, which similarly involve reputation surveys but otherwise rely primarily on student and university-specific data such as graduation rates and entrance exam scores. 

Best Global Universities

More than two-thirds of "Best Global Universities" in US News are concentrated in just 10 countries, led by the United States, whose 181 universities represent nearly a quarter (24.1%) of all universities. 

Like last year, Harvard was ranked top, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California-Berkeley and Stanford. 

US universities also topped rankings based in 22 subject areas, including arts and humanities, clinical medicine, geosciences, computer science and physics. European countries also tended to be well-represented in the top five of each subject area. 

China's 57 universities, up from 27 last year, were led by Peking University at 46th, comprising about 8% of the total. It was followed by the United Kingdom, with 55 universities (7.3%) and Germany, with 50 universities (6.7%). 

New this year were regional rankings for Africa. Its top five are the University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University and University of KwaZulu-Natal, all in South Africa; and Cairo University in Egypt. 

In other regions, the top five institutions (from first to fifth) were:

In Asia: University of Tokyo in Japan, Peking University in China, National University of Singapore, Tsinghua University in China, University of Hong Kong. 

In Australia-New Zealand: University of Melbourne, University of Sydney, University of Queensland Australia, Australian National University and Monash University, all in Australia.

In Europe: University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.

In Latin America: Universidade de São Paulo, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, all in Brazil, University of Buenos Aires in Argentina and National Autonomous University of Mexico. 

In Times Higher Education World University Rankings, released last week, the United States showed “signs of decline”, as did Japan and South Korea. Countries with improved performances in an expanded ranking that examined 1,128 universities worldwide and doubled its list to 800, include the United Kingdom and Germany. (University World News)


  1. Best Global Universities in China 2015 - by U.S. News and World Report

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