World’s most prestigious universities revealed

The United States continues to dominate the upper echelons in the latest global ranking of the world’s most prestigious universities.

According to the latest the Times Higher Education (THE) World Reputation Rankings 2016, the top three universities – Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford – are all based in the States. The UK’s Cambridge and Oxford Universities are the only two non-US institutions to appear in the Top Ten, ranking fourth and fifth respectively (although both fell two positions from a year earlier).

Overall, Asia has significantly increased its share of institutions ranked in the top 100, with the continent now having 18 universities, up from just ten last year.

Its top performer – Japan’s University of Tokyo – held on to 12th place, while China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University leaped eight and 11 places, respectively, to reach 18th and 21st place.

These two nations also led the region in the number of representatives in the top 100 list with five universities each, up from two each last year.

Meanwhile, South Korea and Hong Kong both gained one representative in the ranking, taking their total to two and three, respectively. Seoul National University and the University of Hong Kong, the nations’ top performers, sit in joint 45th place, up from the 51-60 band last year.

In contrast, several European nations have lost ground. The UK remains the second most-represented nation in the list, with 10 universities, even though two institutions – the University of Bristol and Durham University – have fallen out of the top 100. Seven of the 10 have slipped to lower positions.

Four of Germany’s six institutions and four of the Netherlands’ five representatives have also dropped down the list, while Denmark and Finland no longer feature among the top 100. They each had one institution in last year’s ranking.

In many cases, these European universities achieved similar or higher scores than they did last year, but they did not improve as rapidly as institutions in Asia.

Paul Blackmore, professor of higher education at King’s College London’s Policy Institute, said that Asia’s stronger performance is the result of a combination of “undoubted growth in university systems” and “of more being known [about them] among those giving a view”.

“We’ve had a highly Anglo-Saxon view of higher education for many years, and that can’t be sustained for much longer,” he said.

Joshua Mok Ka-Ho, vice-president and chair professor of comparative policy at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, added that Asia’s performance reflects heavy higher education investments from many governments in the region as well as universities concentrating funding on strengthening their research capabilities and publishing in international journals.

The THE World Reputation Rankings 2016, is based on a survey of more than 10,000 top scholars from around the world. Each academic was asked to name up to 15 universities that they believe are the best for research and teaching in their discipline. Votes for institutions based on research prowess were given twice the weight of those for teaching.

Article by David Fuller