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Latest ranking tables reveal continuing global shifts in economic and academic influence

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • China continues to figure more prominently in global ranking tables, but so too do some other emerging higher education systems
  •  2022 Times Higher Education (THE) rankings include two Chinese universities in the Top 20, while 2023 QS rankings include one
  • The QS Graduate Employability Rankings put the US, UK, and Australia in the top three places on the basis of factors including alumni outcomes, employer reputation, employer/student connections, partnerships with employers, and graduate employment rate

The ascent of Chinese universities up world university rankings has slowed in pace since the last time we checked in on the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. Meanwhile, THE rankings editor Ellie Bothwell singles two other countries as ones to watch in terms of their institutions’ performance in the 2022 rankings.

A couple of years ago, we reported that “the number of Chinese institutions in the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) Top 100 universities doubled, from three last year to six this year.” At that time, seven Chinese universities had made it into the Top 200.

Fast forward to now, and the 2022 THE global rankings include two Chinese universities in the Top 20 (Tsinghua and Peking). That puts China alongside Canada and Switzerland (which each have one university in the Top 20) as the only countries outside of the US and UK with universities in this highest tier.

China also places highly in the Top 100 (with six universities in this level), compared with 38 in the US and 11 in the UK. More broadly, ten Chinese institutions are in the Top 200 THE rankings for 2022, a remarkable achievement that keeps China very much in the consideration set of ambitious international students who are motivated by rankings.

International students also have high ranking options elsewhere in Asia: four Hong Kong universities, two Japanese universities, two South Korean universities, and two Singaporean universities are in THE’s Top 100 for 2022.

In Europe, outside of the UK, students can choose from 20 universities in THE’s Top 100 located in such countries as the Netherlands (7), France (3), Germany (7), Belgium (2), Sweden (1), and Denmark (1).

Six Australian universities and five Canadian universities made the Top 100 in 2022.

Two other countries stand out

Times Higher Education rankings editor Ellie Bothwell says,

“If I asked you to name the fastest-rising higher education system in the world, the chances are you would say ‘China’ … but when looking at the full list of more than 1,600 institutions in this year’s table, and comparing this alongside data from four years ago, you might be pushed to give a different response, On that basis, Saudi Arabia and Egypt would both be valid answers, suggesting that these nations might be most likely to emulate China’s success at the top of the ranking in future years.”

QS 2023 rankings

Meanwhile, another much-consulted ranking – QS – has published its 2023 global rankings table and its Top 20 is more varied than THE’s. It puts 11 US universities, three UK universities, and two Australian universities in its top tier, also including a university each for China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and France.

In the QS Top 100 are 32 European universities, 31 North American universities, 26 Asian universities, and nine Australian universities.

Just as watched as QS’s global rankings are its important Graduate Employability Rankings: these are the 2022 results for that table. To summarise, the Top 100 includes:

  • 27 for the US
  • 14 UK
  • 9 Australia
  • 7 Japan
  • 5 China
  • 5 Canada
  • 5 South Korea
  • 3 Hong Kong
  • 1 Singapore

These rankings are very relevant, with editors including such considerations as “alumni outcomes,” “employer reputation,” “employer/student connections,” “partnerships with employers,” and “graduate employment rate.”

Those factors are especially important to students in emerging markets.

A 2021 survey by INTO University Partnerships detected a trend of international students evaluating institutions on factors other than rankings:

“The majority of Gen Z – 72% – places greater importance on the ability of a university to give them the skills they need for their future than a university’s ranking. Only 17% of Gen Z believe it is important to go to an elite, highly ranked university, even if doing so is more expensive.”

The INTO survey found that Nigerian and Kenyan students “are the most focused on degree outcomes, with 81% and 86% reporting that degree outcomes are more important to them than ranking, respectively.” By comparison, 42% of Chinese students considered a university’s rankings more important than degree outcomes and 43% said degree outcomes are more important.

INTO’s survey was conducted with 1,200 prospective students under the age of 25 in 93 countries including China, India, Nigeria, Kenya, Japan, Australia, and Brazil.

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