Asian universities seem to be acing up their game as they registered significantly higher rankings for 2023. Meanwhile, in Europe, Switzerland remains the only country that has a univesity in the UK-US dominated Top 10 best universities in the world.
ETH Zürich, the renowned Swiss university, remains the only university outside US and UK to hold a place in the QS Top 10 best universities in the world. France and Germany follow suit, but they only managed to secure three positions in Top 50, while Asia comes in strong from the other part of the world.
Over the past ten years, Asian universities performed increasingly better, and today they occupy thirteen positions in Top 50 QS World Universities Ranking. Chinese universities went up in the chart by at least 20 positions! Two other countries with a significant presence in Top 50 are Canada and Australia.
Perhaps the most interesting changes happened in Asia
Asia’s representation changed from 9 universities in Top 50 in 2013 to 13 universities in 2013. Many of these institutions went up by more than 20 positions.
The National University of Singapore, scoring highest in Asia, went from position 24 in 2013 to 11 in 2023. While it excels in most categories, two indicators still bring it down: Faculty-Student Ratio (number of students per tutor) and International Students Ratio (the ratio of international students to the overall number of students). However, ten years ago, it had its lower score of 57.3 out of 100 on Citation per Faculty, which today has an impressive score of 91.8. This indicator measures research quality.
Peking University of China had an even more extraordinary evolution, going from the 46th place in 2013 to the 12th today. Now as well as then, the scores that pull it down are the International Student Ratio and International Faculty Ratio, two indicators that measure the number of international students and academic staff. What’s more, all Chinese universities in Top 50 have significantly higher positions in Rankings today than they had ten years ago.
Japan’s University of Tokyo, on the other hand, had a smoother evolution, with the lowest score in 2016 (position 39) and the best in 2020 (position 22). This year it’s the 23rd university on the list, with a perfect score of academic reputation (100 points). This is the most important indicator, weighing 40% of the total score and revealing the quality of teaching and research performed by that institution.
Despite its academic reputation score, the University of Tokyo is pulled down a lot by its International Students Ratio and International Faculty Ratio (only 10.4 out of 100). It becomes clear that to reach an accurate conclusion, the QS score should be read in detail, category by category. You shouldn’t choose Tokyo if you want to be part of a dynamic international community, but its quality of education is outstanding.
What changed for ETH Zürich over the past ten years?
ETH Zürich is a world-leading research university with a focus on science and technology. This is the university where Albert Einstein studied and graduated in 1900. And he is not the only extraordinary alumni of ETH, as the university has no less than 21 Nobel laureates.
In 2013, ETH was ranked 12th in QS World Ranking, and by 2020 it reached 6th place, a position it maintained in 2021 as well. However, this year, it went down by three positions and is in 9th place now. While it scores high on most indicators, its lowest score is on Faculty-Student Ratio which indicates the number of tutors in relation to the number of students.
Only three European countries managed to reach Top 50 Best Universities
From the EU, there are four more universities in Top 50: ETH Zürich’s sister university, EPFL
There is a clear tendency in EU institutions that score high in world rankings to be mostly technical universities, with a strong focus on science and engineering. Based on this data, higher education in business, law, medicine, humanities, and arts in Europe doesn’t have an equally high-quality representation.
The best university in Australia is losing ground in the Rankings race
In 2023, Australia has five universities in Top 50, compared to four in 2013, so not much of a change.
Unlike Asian universities, Australian higher education institutions have excellent scores for the international ratio indicators, but they have low scores on the Faculty-Student Ratio, meaning they don’t have enough tutors for the number of students.
Unfortunately, over the past years, the best university in the country, The Australian National University, has been on a downward slope, ending up in the 30th position in 2023. Its best performance was in 2016, when it secured the 19th position in World Rankings.
Canadian universities are an excellent choice for international students
There were three Canadian Universities in Top 50 in 2013. The same three are still among the best 50 universities in 2023: McGill University, University of Toronto, and University of British Columbia. The difference is that while the University of British Columbia remained on average in the same position, the other two went down from position 21 to 31 and from 17 to 34, respectively. The change happened because of lower scores in Faculty-Student Ratio and Citations per Faculty. At the same time, all three universities score high on international indicators.
What are the QS World University Rankings?
There are three main publications that analyse higher education performance and publish a top of the best universities in the world: QS World University Rankings, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and Shanghai Ranking. Each of them is highly regarded and developed its own system of assessing quality.
QS Rankings is the most popular ranking system, and it uses 6 indicators to assess the world’s top universities:
Academic Reputation is the main indicator, weighing 40% of the overall mark. It assesses the quality of teaching and research undergone by the university through a global survey.
Employer Reputation holds 10% of the overall mark and is unique to QS, bringing the issue of employability among the factors that influence how good a university is. Like academic reputation, the indicator is based on a survey sent, in this case, to thousands of employers.
Faculty / Student Ratio has a weighing of 20% of the final mark, and it looks at the ratio between the total number of faculty academic staff and the total number of students. Qs believes that the more academic staff there are available, the better the student’s experience will be.
Citations per Faculty is an indicator that weighs 20% of the overall mark, and it measures how many times the papers published by the faculty’s academic staff are cited in other academic works.
International student ratio contributes 5% to the final mark. It looks at the ratio of international students to the overall number of students.
International faculty ratio amounts to the remaining 5% of the mark. It measures the ratio of international academics to the overall number of academics in the faculty.