The US’s share of the world’s top 100 universities is declining while that of East Asian nations and universities in the Middle East is on the rise, according to the 19th annual edition of The Times Higher Education ranking published earlier this month. The University of Oxford was ranked number one for the seventh consecutive year.
I’m indebted to the women and men of Oxford whose research continues to broaden our horizons, cure disease and explore difficult problems.Louise Richardson, Oxford’s vice chancellor
In 2018, the US boasted close to half of the world’s top 100 positions in the world rankings, with 43 universities. In this edition, however, the US has just 34. Ohio State and Michigan State, for instance, have lost their spot among the top 100.
“There’s no evidence that US research is weakening in an absolute sense,” Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Oxford told Times Higher Education. “This continues to be the most prestigious system in the world.”
There is cause for mounting concern in the fear that increasing geopolitical tensions and mistrust means the world as a whole does not fully benefit from the overall boom in global research excellence, as systems retreat into nationalism and knowledge sharing shrinks back.
While China’s universities excel in the rankings, their scores for international research collaboration and their share of international talent are in decline. “It would be regrettable if the growth of foreigners working in higher education in China stops as the engagement is good for everyone,” Marginson said. “It would be unsurprising, however, as we are now in a more conflictual era in the geopolitics of higher education.”
The World Economic Forum (WEF) reports that mainland China’s share of the world top 100 positions has risen from just two in 2018, to an impressive seven today. Hong Kong has a further five top 100 institutions, up from just three in 2018. South Korea has three top 100 places, up from two in 2018. Singapore and Japan both takes two top 100 places each.
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are leading what some are calling a new renaissance driven by innovation and knowledge creation, backed by heavy investment. Saudi’s King Abdulaziz University is one of the fastest rising universities in the world, rocketing to 101st position this year, from 190th last year, and the Kingdom is the most improved nation, by national average score, in the world rankings this year.
In the UAE, of the six UAE universities included in the overall world rankings for 2023, five are on the rise led by the United Arab Emirates University and the University of Sharjah, which have both surged this year into the world top 300 list.
The Times Higher Education ranking has become barometer of the shifts in the global innovation and knowledge economy, supporting governments policymaking and university leaders’ strategic decisions, as well as supporting millions of internationally-mobile students to decide on who to trust with their education.
It is based on 13 separate performance metrics, covering the full range of internationally-focussed research universities’ core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The 2023 edition is based on an analysis of over 15.5 million research publications – and over 112 million citations to those publications – as well as a survey of more than 40,000 academics worldwide on the international academic reputation of each school, on top of data on institutional income and faculty demographics, including international talent recruitment and research collaboration.
UK’s University of Oxford tops the ranking for the seventh consecutive year. It is a university renowned for its international knowledge sharing. Oxford is followed by Harvard University in second, while the University of Cambridge (up from 5th) and Stanford University (up from 4th) share third place. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology holds fifth place.
The University of Chicago has lost its world top-10 place, falling to 13th, with the UK’s Imperial College London taking its place, moving up from 12th last year, to 10th in 2023.