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QS World University Rankings 2016/17
Western Europe wanes while China, South Korea, US, and Russia surge
This year’s rankings imply that levels of investment are determining who progresses and who regresses. Institutions in countries that provide high levels of targeted funding, whether from endowments or from the public purse, are rising. On the other hand, Western European nations making or proposing cuts to public research spending are losing ground to their US and Asian counterparts.
London, 13th September 2016: The thirteenth edition of the QS World University Rankings has been released today by global higher education think tank QS Quacquarelli Symonds. Last year’s global leader Massachusetts Institute of Technology retains its status as the world’s foremost higher education institution for the fifth consecutive year. It is followed by compatriots Stanford and Harvard. The University of Cambridge, previously joint-third, drops to fourth.
Notable individual institutional changes
Australia no longer possesses a top-20 university after Australian National University slides to 21st, while three new institutions – one from China and one from Hong Kong – enter the global top fifty. The UK also suffers a top-20 casualty in the form of King’s College London, but sees the University of Edinburgh take the 19th-place position previously held by King’s.
Explaining Western Europe’s decline
The decline of Western European universities occurs primarily due to worsening relative performance in QS’s reputational surveys. This is compounded by drops in QS’s internationalisation metrics. Over half of Western Europe’s 232 ranked universities see lowered rank for academic reputation. The same trend can be observed for employer reputation scores, proportion of international faculty, and faculty/student ratios. Western Europe’s performance for QS’s research metric is more stable. However, only a marginal majority of universities see static or improved rank for citations per faculty.
This is exacerbated, it is suggested, by the resultant funding struggles facing academics residing in Europe. Another is a series of concerted effort by non-European nations to improve both international student mobility and international research collaborations - examples include Russia’s 5-100 program and the Common Space of Higher Education invoked by ASEAN members. These efforts are visible in Russia’s substantially improved performance in both of QS’s internationalisation metrics.
Sowter said: “This year’s rankings imply that levels of investment are determining who progresses and who regresses. Institutions in countries that provide high levels of targeted funding, whether from endowments or from the public purse, are rising. On the other hand, Western European nations making or proposing cuts to public research spending are losing ground to their US and Asian counterparts.”
Elsewhere in the world, Latin American universities continue to see uniform struggles with research metrics. They also see performance plummet for both international student ratio and international faculty ratio. However, one positive comes in the form of consistent improvements for employer reputation, while the Universidad de Buenos Aires’s success means that Latin America has a representative among the world’s top 100 for the first time since the 2006 edition of the rankings.