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US universities top Shanghai global rankings, China rises

US universities have outranked more than 1,250 other higher education institutions around the world and China is steadily improving in the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released last week by the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Harvard University has held onto the top spot in the Global Rankings. Photo: Moe Homayounieh/Flickr

“Other countries are pumping billions into higher education and research... something now reflected by the rapid rise of these universities in worldwide rankings"

Harvard University has topped the list, as it has every year since the rankings began in 2003. Overall 146 American universities feature in the top 500 ranking and an impressive 16 have dominated the top 20.

Mainland China now has 32 top 500 universities, up from 28 in the 2013 rankings

Accompanying Harvard in the top 10 are Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, Princeton, Caltech, Columbia and the University of Chicago.

Meanwhile, mainland China now has 32 top 500 universities, up from 28 in the 2013 rankings, and while none of these are in the top 100, its three leading universities, Peking, Tsinghua and Shanghai Jiao Tong, are now firmly in the 100-150 bracket, showing a steady improvement.

New entrant Brunel University London brought Britain’s total number of featured universities to 38 – one more than last year. Three of its institutions were also in the top 20; Cambridge fifth place, Oxford ninth and University College London (UCL) 20th.

London universities in particular have climbed the rankings, with UCL, Imperial College London and King’s College London all improving their positions on last year.

“The continued success of the UK’s leading universities, as highlighted by these rankings, will require increased investment and less regulation from government in the coming years,” Wendy Piatt, Director of the Russell Group said.

“The UK’s spending is far behind that of other Western European nations, China and the USA – our public expenditure of 0.7 per cent of GDP on higher education is on a par with Chile and Slovakia,” she added.

“The continued success of the UK’s leading universities will require increased investment and less regulation from government in the coming years”

Elsewhere Germany had 39 top 500 universities, one more than Britain, but none made the top 20. France and Italy each had 21 universities in the top 500, as did Canada, followed by Australia and Japan with 19 universities each.

The University of Melbourne has become the highest ranked university in Australasia in the history of the ARWU in 44th position.

Meanwhile Japan’s University of Tokyo and Kyoto University were the highest ranking the Asian institutions, at 21st and 26th respectively, but the country’s overall entries have fallen by 17 compared to a decade ago.

South Africa and Egypt were the only African countries to feature in rankings: South Africa’s University of Cape TownWitwatersrand, KwaZulu-Natal and Stellenbosch, and Egypt with the Cairo University.

The ARWU has recently undergone a slight change in methodology, following a change in how highly cited (Hi-Ci) researchers are counted. This was due to a recent switch by ARWU’s affiliate Thomson Reuters from a 30-year time frame to 10 years for identification of researchers who produce highly cited articles.

The AWRU has attempted to provide stability to its ranking through equal weighting of the old and new Hi-Ci listings, but increasingly universities will be judged on their current contributions to research rather than their historical performance.

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