The world order might be changing but, as far as the knowledge-power nexus is concerned, the United States of America and the United Kingdom still have the largest number of the top scoring universities in the world. Although the University of Toronto now comes before the University College London, for example, and there are now two Chinese universities in the top 25, universities from these two countries are still the big names in that club as shown below. In fact, the top 10 is a club claimed exclusively and comfortably by the two past empires- the UK and the US.
This is what the 2022 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking is showing. THE is one of about five of the most regular and influential of the ranking promoters. Looking at the ranking involving several universities across the world, it could be said nothing fundamentally has changed, considering that the line up below in the case of THE is nearly the same line up for the Shanghai ranking exercise published a few months ago before that of THE today. (That report as published by University World News is re-published immediately after the top 25 of the new list). It is published to show that whichever one of the most influential rankings you take, there is a club of universities that prevail. And they are from the US, UK, Singapore, China, Canada and Australia before the rest follow. In fact, any student of power can infer the current rank order of the nations by merely looking at the university rankings, given the power of universities over theories, concepts and metaphors which, in turn, create the realities we deal with. As for now, Africa is mostly missing, qualitatively and quantitatively.
The world university ranking exercise is more of marketing than academic, it is nevertheless a pointer to which university is sailing high. Meanwhile, here is the top 25 in the THE ranking for 2022:
|No. of FTE Students||No. of students per staff||International Students||Female:Male Ratio|
|1||University of Oxford||20,835||10.7||42%||47 : 53|
|=2||California Institute of Technology||2,233||6.3||34%||36 : 64|
|=2||Harvard University||21,574||9.5||24%||50 : 50|
|4||Stanford University||16,319||7.3||23%||46 : 54|
|=5||University of Cambridge||19,681||11.1||39%||47 : 53|
|=5||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||11,459||8.4||33%||40 : 60|
|7||Princeton University||7,753||7.5||23%||47 : 53|
|8||University of California, Berkeley||40,306||18.9||23%||51 : 49|
|9||Yale University||13,317||5.9||21%||51 : 49|
|10||The University of Chicago||14,895||6.1||33%||46 : 54|
|12||Imperial College London||17,717||11.3||59%||40 : 60|
|=13||Johns Hopkins University||16,552||4.3||28%||52 : 48|
|=13||University of Pennsylvania||21,211||6.4||22%||53 : 47|
|15||ETH Zurich||20,428||14.4||41%||32 : 68|
|=16||Peking University||31,606||10.2||19%||46 : 54|
|=16||Tsinghua University||38,221||11.5||13%||34 : 66|
|=18||University of Toronto||75,821||25.5||25%||57 : 43|
|=18||UCL||35,760||10.6||57%||58 : 42|
|20||University of California, Los Angeles||42,054||10.0||17%||55 : 45|
|21||National University of Singapore||31,819||18.8||25%||50 : 50|
|22||Cornell University||23,600||10.3||25%||50 : 50|
|23||Duke University||15,785||4.2||22%||52 : 48|
|=24||University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||44,663||8.1||17%||50 : 50|
|=24||Northwestern University||18,735||13.0||19%||50 : 50|
American and British universities continued to dominate the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2021, accounting for just over a quarter of the top 1,000 institutions, with no major overall changes or upsets from previous editions. Harvard University took the top spot yet again – as indeed it has for the past 19 years.
Harvard is followed in the top five by Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California, Berkeley.
As the world’s first major global university ranking, launched in 2003 and now carried out by the independent Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, the ARWU is known for its stability, with little change in the placing of universities year by year.
The United States has an impressive 16 universities in the top 20. Also in there are Princeton (6), Columbia (8), California Institute of Technology (9), Chicago (10), Yale (11), Cornell (12), University of California, Los Angeles (14), Pennsylvania (15), Johns Hopkins (16), University of California, San Diego (18), Washington (19), and University of California, San Francisco (20).
The United Kingdom has three in the top 20 – Cambridge in third place, the University of Oxford (7) and University College London (17). France’s Paris-Saclay University came in at 13 – up from 14 in 2020, for its performance in mathematics.
Proclaimed in its press release as being “recognised as the precursor of global university rankings and the most trustworthy one”, the ARWU, often known as the Shanghai ranking, scrutinised 2,000 universities worldwide, with the 1,000 best published.
US domination of the overall rankings, as well as the top slots, saw 40 American institutions among the top 100; 129 among the top 500; and 200 among the top 1,000 – one in five of all of the 1,000 world-leading universities.
Eight British universities were in the top 100 – aside from the three in the top 20 there are Imperial College London (25), the University of Manchester (35) and the University of Edinburgh (38). There were 38 in the top 500 and 65 in the top 1,000.
Germany has four universities in the top 100: the University of Munich (48), Technical University of Munich (52), Heidelberg University (57) and University of Bonn (84).
Switzerland’s ETH Zurich dropped one place, to 21 this year, while Canada’s University of Toronto rose by one place, to 22. Japan’s University of Tokyo was the only Asian university in the top 30, rising two places to 24.
France has three universities in the top 50, with Paris-Saclay rising one position to 13, the Sorbonne rising four places to 35, and Paris Sciences et Lettres University dropping two places to 38. Overall, France has 17 institutions in the top 500 and 30 in the top 1,000.
China performed well in the rankings, with Tsinghua University rising by a place to 28, Peking University rising four places to 45, and Zheijang University climbing by six places to 52. China has seven universities in the top 100, 84 in the top 500 and 180 universities in the top 1,000 – it is catching up to the US in this regard.
Two European universities moved up into the top 50, the University of Munich at 48 and Utrecht University in the Netherlands has risen two places to 50.
Three universities entered the top 100 list, including Sun Yat-sen University (89) in China, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (90) and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (94).
The ARWU ranking sees little change year on year because its methodology stays the same. Research and the quality of academics are highly valued in the ARWU methodology, together accounting for 80% of a university’s overall score.
The ‘research output’ category is worth 40%, including 20% based on an institution’s number of papers published in leading academic journals Nature and Science, plus 20% for the number of papers listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded or Social Sciences Citation Index.
The ‘quality of faculty’ category is also worth 40%, with 20% scored on the number of staff at a university winning Nobel Prizes and Field Medals and 20% for highly cited researchers. The remaining one-fifth of the score covers two categories: 10% for alumni who have won a Nobel Prize or Field Medal; and 10% for the per capita performance of a university.
Other big rankings
Unlike the Shanghai ranking, the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2022, published in June, is 40% determined by an institution’s reputation, as well as by faculty-to-student ratios, including international staff and students.
Harvard University dropped out of the top three for the first time, to fifth position, while overall, 91 US universities lost ground to China. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology topped the latest QS rankings – but is ranked fourth in the Shanghai ranking – while Oxford came in second and Cambridge held joint third place with Stanford.
In the QS ranking Asia’s top two universities, from Singapore, were ranked 11 and 12 – National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) respectively. In the Shanghai ranking, the NUS ranked 75 and NTU at 81.
For its part the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings places Oxford first and Stanford second followed by Harvard, California Institute of Technology and MIT. Then Cambridge (6), Berkeley (7), Yale (8), Princeton (9) and Chicago (10).
The ranking, published in September 2020 and due out again soon, said Chinese universities had made “several historic gains”, with the country closing in on and in some areas overtaking the US in terms of research.
“China is home to the first Asian university in the top 20 of the ranking since the current methodology was introduced in 2011, after Tsinghua University climbed three places to joint 20th this year. The country has also doubled its number of top 100 representatives, from three to six, in the past year, while all bar one of its top 20 institutions in last year’s ranking have improved or maintained their performance.”