LONDON, Sept. 2, 2020
LONDON, Sept. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --
Times Higher Education (THE), has today announced the results of its World University Rankings 2021, which underline the shifting strength of higher education and research around the world. Japan's top performing universities continue to impress, as Japan remains the second most represented country or region overall. The UK's University of Oxford claims top spot for the 5th consecutive year, while US domination of the top 10 masks wider decline, and mainland China's Tsinghua University becomes the first ever Asian university to break into the top 20 since the current methodology was launched in 2011.
The THE World University Rankings are the most balanced and comprehensive global ranking, with 13 separate performance metrics covering the full range of core activities for research-intensive universities: teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook. This year's ranking analysed over 86 million citations across more than 13.6 million research publications and included survey responses from 22,000 scholars globally.
The 17th edition of the Rankings sees a record 18 countries and regions represented in the top 100, and 93 represented overall, demonstrating that geopolitical competition in the global knowledge economy is intensifying. Moreover, a record 1,527 institutions qualify for the 2021 edition, a 9% increase from the 2020 rankings when 1,397 institutions qualified.
Since the current methodology was introduced, the University of Tokyo has achieved a top 50 spot each year, achieving joint 36th in the 2021 ranking. Kyoto University also impresses, climbing 11 places to joint 54th position. Since 2017, Kyoto University has managed to improve its previous ranking position year on year. Additionally, Tohoku University continues to push for its first top 200 finish since 2015, as it moves up into the 201-250 band (previously 251-300 in 2020).
Notwithstanding the success story of the University of Oxford, the UK's status as a higher education superpower is under challenge, as institutions from Asia show clear signs of continued improvement. Of the UK's highest 20 ranked institutions last year, only five were able to improve their position in the table. The US also sees the challenge from Asia affecting its performance. Its universities continue to perform well at the top end of the ranking, commanding the highest number of positions in the overall top 10 (8) since the rankings began, as the University of California, Berkeley, climbs 6 places, from joint 13th to 7th. However, 50% of the US's 20 best performing universities from the 2020 ranking fail to maintain their position. Over the past five years, the US has lost 4 positions in the overall top 200 (63 in 2016, 59 in 2021) as competition rises for the top spots.
Country / Region
University of Oxford
California Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Cambridge
University of California, Berkeley
University of Chicago
TABLE: Overall Top 10 – THE World University Rankings 2021
Asia's rise is fronted by mainland China's Tsinghua University (joint 20th), which becomes the first Asian university ever to break into the THE World University Rankings top 20 since the current methodology launched in 2011. This achievement is an indicator of the wider positive movements in higher education for mainland China, and the rest of Asia in recent years. Since 2016, mainland China has gained 5 additional places in the top 200 (from 2 in 2016 to 7 in 2021). It has also doubled its representation in the top 100 since last year, gaining 3 additional places (6 in total). Of the 7 universities that achieved a top 200 place in 2020, 85% improved their position in 2021, as mainland China continues to challenge the world's very best.
In total, there are 16 Asian universities in the top 100, the highest total for Asia since the rankings began. Mainland China's Fudan University (joint 70th), Zhejiang University (joint 94th), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (100th) and South Korea's Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) (96th), all move into the elite group. Of those 16 institutions, 13 of them either improved or maintained their position from last year, demonstrating the rising competition from Asia at the expense of western higher education systems.
In terms of representation, Japan has an impressive 116 qualifying universities, making it the second most represented country or region in the rankings (second to the US, 181). The US dominates the top 200 positions (59), with the United Kingdom (29) and Germany (21) following in second and third. Overall, European representation at the top of the table is in a steady decline, losing 9 top 200 places in the past 5 years (105 in 2016, 96 in 2021). This is a result of China, Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Canada all gaining positions in the same period. However, it's not all doom and gloom for Europe, as Germany's top five performing universities in the 2021 ranking all improve or equal their 2020 ranking positions. Furthermore, Paris-Saclay University (joint 178th), formerly Paris-Sud University, is the highest ranked new entrant in the 2021 ranking.
The THE World University Rankings 2021 sees 141 universities qualify for the first time. India has the highest total of new entrants, with 14, and sees a record number of ranked institutions as a result (63). After India, the US (13), mainland China (10), Russia, Japan, and Iran (all 9), bolster their representation in the rankings following a number of new entries. There is also a first ever entrant for Botswana: the University of Botswana (1001+).
Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer at THE, commented:
"Japan's top universities are consistently performing at the top end of the World University Rankings table, with The University of Tokyo, Kyoto University and Tohoku University all improving or maintaining their 2020 positions in our most competitive rankings so far. Furthermore, Japan is once again the second most represented country or region in the THE World University Rankings, demonstrating its ambition to compete with the very best on the world stage of higher education.
This year marks a milestone for Asian higher education, as China's Tsinghua University disrupts the traditional domination of western universities at the top of the table, breaking into the top 20 for the first time. This trend is likely to accelerate further as the coronavirus pandemic heralds a perfect storm of huge challenges for primarily western universities. With a likely decrease in the international flow of students and staff around the world, and possible funding challenges among the west's established higher education sectors, we could see Asia capitalise. If homegrown talent stays in the region instead of making its traditional migration to elite western institutions, particularly in the US and the UK, we could see the start of a dramatic rebalancing of the global knowledge economy to Asia's benefit."
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Head of Communications, THE