Rafael Reif, newly appointed president of MIT, nodded to the role that international students played in pushing up its standards and research output. “MIT, like other leading institutions of higher education in the US, has benefited tremendously from its ability to attract talented students, faculty, and staff who, for a variety of reasons, choose to leave their home countries to come to the US,” he said.
The growing internationalisation of universities was the driving factor for changes in this year’s rankings
The growing internationalisation of universities was in fact the driving factor for changes in this year’s rankings – with the top 100 universities each seeing a rise of almost 10% in international student numbers.
Universities recording a modest increase or maintaining previous recruitment levels are being overtaken in rankings performance, as was the case for MIT, whose sharp rise in international faculty caused it to overtake both Harvard and Cambridge for top spot.
Its specialisation in science and technology also accounts for the ascension. “The rise of MIT coincides with a global shift in emphasis toward science and technology”, says QS head of research Ben Sowter. “MIT perfects a blueprint that is now being followed by a new wave of cutting-edge tech-focused institutions, especially in Asia”.
Nine of the top ten technological universities have moved further up the rankings, with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology enjoying the biggest rise in the top 100 to number 63.
US universities dominate the rankings, as they have every year since they were first published in 2004, occupying six of the top ten places, 13 of the top 20 and 31 of the top 100 – the same numbers as last year. Despite the overall stability of the rankings newcomer the University of Toronto joined the top 20.
Australia again has more universities in the top 100 than any country outside the US and UK, although the total is down from eight to seven. Japan has six universities in the top 100 and the Netherlands four.
In China, seven of the top ten universities have gone up, and both Peking and Tsinghua universities remain in the top 50. Hong Kong also has three universities in the top 40, including Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the youngest institution in the top 150.
Scores in the QS rankings comprise an equal balance of expert opinion and data on staffing levels, research citations and international students and faculty. More than 46,000 academics and 25,000 employers have contributed their views in the most extensive polling ever undertaken on global universities.