Global ranking sees shift away from Western universities

China has an unprecedented seven universities in the world top 100 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023 – up from six last year and just two five years ago.

Tsinghua University becomes the best-performing Chinese institution (16th overall) in the rankings, which were released on Wednesday 12 October.

Asia is the most represented continent with 669 universities participating out of a total of 1,799 universities.

Japan leads the Asian countries with a total of 117 universities ranked, followed by China with 95 and India with 75.

Among individual nations, Germany also achieved unprecedented success with nine universities in the top 100 and 22 in the top 200.

However, the biggest increase in participation by continent was achieved by Africa, with a 36.6% increase in participation, up from 71 to 97 institutions.

Five new African countries appear in the rankings for the first time: Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The highest-ranking university in Africa is the University of Cape Town at rank 160.

The Latin American and Caribbean region sees a record 140 universities from 12 countries ranked. Brazil, Mexico and Colombia all have a high number of new entrants, with five newly ranked universities for Mexico and Colombia and four for Brazil.

Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at Times Higher Education (THE), said the data show a “real shift in the balance of power in the global knowledge economy, away from the traditionally dominant Western world”.

“I think this shift – a global levelling up – is good news for the world. A rising tide is lifting all boats: access to top quality education is opening up globally and helping to diminish the brain drain from developing countries,” he said.

At the very top, normal service was resumed with the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom ranked first for the seventh time in a row. It is followed by Harvard University (United States); the University of Cambridge (UK); Stanford University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; California Institute of Technology; Princeton University; University of California, Berkeley; and Yale University (all US); and Imperial College London (UK).

Although the US continues to dominate with 177 universities ranked overall, including seven in the world top 10 (although down one on last year), and 12 in the top 20, its supremacy is being challenged by Asia as the number of US universities represented in the top 100 continues to fall, from 43 in 2018, to 34 this year.

Baty said: “While the US and UK remain dominant in terms of their representation at the very top of the rankings, their relative power is waning.”

In Europe, outside the UK, Switzerland’s ETH Zurich is the highest-ranked institution (joint 11th, up from 15th place).

Australia has 10 universities in the top 200 with the University of Melbourne being the country’s best-performing institution, ranked 34th overall (down one place from 33rd).

Some 170 universities are ranked for the first time: 74 from Asia, 53 from Europe, 25 from Africa, 17 from South America and six from North America. At country level, there are: 13 newly ranked universities from China, nine from Poland, eight from Iran, eight from Pakistan and seven from Turkey. Among these 170 universities, Humanitas University in Italy has the best performance and is ranked in the 201-250 band.

Baty said the world rankings, overall, are much more inclusive, covering 104 countries and regions this year, compared to just 70 in 2016.

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