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Shanghai rankings: US takes top spots, EU strong in top 500

US universities have topped the Shanghai rankings again this year, while universities in Europe claim the largest share of the top 500.

Harvard University has been ranked number one for the 13th consecutive year. Photo: Mancala

This year has also seen 205 European universities maintain their top 500 positions

For the 13th consecutive year, Academic Ranking of World Universities has ranked Harvard University as the best university in the world. Stanford, MIT and UC Berkeley followed with the UK’s top entrant, the University of Cambridge rounding out the top five.

The ARWU, which was released this month by the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, show that American universities have held on to 16 of the top 20 spots.

“In the past, universities needed to get approval from the ministry of education before setting any programmes”

Forming the top three universities alongside Cambridge, the University of Oxford ranked 10th and University College London, placed at 18th.

This year has also seen 205 European universities maintain their top 500 positions. At 20, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich is the highest ranked continental European university.

The rankings, which started in 2003, were originally created for Chinese universities alone, but have since been expanded worldwide.

Similar to 2014’s rankings, a total of 32 Chinese universities made it in to the top 500 for 2015– an increase of four from the 2013 table.

The highest ranked Chinese universities were Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Tsinghua University, placing in the 101-150 bracket.

Ying Cheng, executive director of the CWCU at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, told The PIE News that more investment into higher education could help increase the rankings of Chinese institutions, “particularly by concentrated funds to a handful of selected universities.”

He also added that Chinese positions may improve if universities are given more freedom.

“Some universities are now allowed to set programmes by themselves and recruit students, especially graduate students, using their own standards,” he said.

“In the past, universities needed to get approval from the ministry of education before setting any programmes, and universities have to use the scores in national university entrance examination to select students.”

Looking at all of Asia, Japan took top ranks, with the University of Tokyo coming in at 21, and Kyoto University keeping its 26th place for the fourth consecutive year.

Africa meanwhile has maintained five universities in top 500 brackets: University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand in the 201-300 space, while Stellenbosch University and University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, and Cairo University in Egypt all fall in the 401-500 bracket.

Elsewhere, a total of 20 Australian universities appeared on the list, with Queensland University of Technology entering the top 500 for the first time. The University of Melbourne was the highest ranked Australian university (44th), with the Australian National University, the University of Queensland joint 77th, and the University of Western Australia (87th) ranking in the top 100.

Similar to 2014’s rankings, a total of 32 Chinese universities made it in to the top 500 for 2015

Sharif University of Technology in Iran was also a new entry to the table, securing the second place for an Iranian unviversity after the University of Tehran moved up from the 301-400 bracket, to 201-300.

In AMRU’s other subject-based rankings, US universities held all top 10 spots for the rankings in the broad subject field of social sciences and the selected subjects of economics and business, and computer science.

More than 1,200 universities worldwide are surveyed for the annual rankings, of which the top 500 are published.

The positions of the universities are based on six indicators: Nobel Prizes and Field Medal winners from alumni and staff, highly cited researchers from 21 subject categories, per capita academic performance, as well as the number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, and indexed in Science Citation Index – Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index.

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