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US and China dominate US News’ latest university rankings

The US and China have dominated in the US News & World Report 2020 Best Global Universities Rankings, further cementing research reputations of the two countries’ institutions. 

The US and China have the greatest number of universities in the rankings. Photo: Abby Chung.

The new edition of the US-produced academic rankings evaluates 1,500 universities, up from 1,250 last year. There were 249 American institutions in the report, accounting for 16.6% of all universities featured. Chinese universities accounted for 12.5% of the total share. 

Eight out of ten of the world’s top universities as per the ranking, including Harvard, MIT, Stanford, University of California—Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Princeton University, and the University of Washington, were in the US.

U.S News & World Report is the originator of university rankings in the 1980’s and since then other rankings emerged around the world.

“USNWR was primarily focused on US universities while other rankings such as THE and QS have focused on global rankings of universities around the world,” said Rahul Choudaha, EVP of Global Engagement and Research at Studyportals.

“More recently, USNWR also launched its global rankings. USNWR has extensive reach among American students and families and are increasingly used by international students.

“USNWR also provides a deeper classification of US universities such as rankings by the regions and level of education. Rankings have been adding more tools and resources beyond just listing of the universities to engage and inform prospective students,” he added.

This year’s report includes six new subject rankings on oncology, surgery, cardiac and cardiovascular systems, electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical engineering and civil engineering.

In both the engineering and computer science rankings, four of the top 10 schools are based in China.

The UK had 86 universities included (5.7%) and then Japan with 82 (5.5%). Germany was fifth in the overall world rankings with 66 universities (4.4%). 

All of the top five countries maintained the same overall position, compared with last year’s rankings. 

Oxford and Cambridge were the only two non-American universities that made the top list. The only significant change in the top 10 rankings was Cambridge dropping to 9th place from 7th last year. 

The report also identified the top three universities by global region. The top universities in Africa were the University of Cape Town (South Africa), the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)  and Stellenbosch University (South Africa). 

Asia’s top universities were the National University of Singapore, Tsinghua University (China) and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). 

The top universities in Australia and New Zealand were the University of Melbourne (Australia), the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland (Australia). 

In Europe, Oxford (UK), Cambridge (UK) and Imperial College London (UK) took the top spots, while in Latin America the highest ranked universities were Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil),  Pontificia University Católica de Chile and State University of Campinas (Brazil). 

“A major emphasis on academic research is what sets this methodology apart from our other university rankings”

“Many prospective students are looking to other countries for their education,” said Anita Narayan, managing editor of education at US News. 

“The Best Global Universities rankings give these students a starting point for their search. In addition to the rankings, students should also consider their fluency in the language of instruction, the fields of study that the school offers and the costs that come from studying in another country.” 

The methodology used for the rankings was based on Web of Science data and InCites metrics provided by the Web of Science Group. 

Factors that measure a university’s success include regional research reputation and academic research performance.

For the overall rankings, this includes publications, citations and international collaboration. Each subject ranking has its own methodology based on academic research performance and reputation in that specific area.

“As the Best Global Universities rankings continue to expand in number of schools and subjects to fulfil the needs of prospective students, we remain consistent in our mission to evaluate schools around the world on their research,” said Robert Morse, chief data strategist at US News. 

“A major emphasis on academic research is what sets this methodology apart from our other university rankings.”

The full report and rankings can be found here on US News’ website.

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