Harvard University was hailed as the best performing higher education institution for the 21st consecutive year, followed by Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The UK’s Cambridge and Oxford were positioned fourth and seventh, respectively.
More than 2,500 universities are ranked by ARWU each year and the best 1,000 are published in the list, also known as the Shanghai Rankings.
The annual ranking evaluates HEIs based on six criteria, including the number of Nobel prizes and Fields Medals, the number of highly cited researchers and the number of papers published in Nature and Science.
Many institutions have taken to social media to celebrate making the list, including Israel’s Weizmann Institute.
“Even in those complicated times for the Israeli academia, the Weizmann Institute has jumped up in the Shanghai Rankings from the 83rd place last year to the 67th place this year—another reason to be proud!”
HESA president Alex Usher highlighted that the number of places in the top 100 held by US institutions has significantly dropped since the inceptive edition of the rankings in 2003.
Number of places in the @ShanghaiRanking top 100 over time, by country. I’m pretty sure the 2003 ranking was too kind to the Americans, but that’s still a hell of a drop over 20 years. And yes China has gone from 0 to 10 places in the last decade. pic.twitter.com/TdMM98L44q
— Alex Usher (@AlexUsherHESA) August 15, 2023
In this year’s rankings, China has 214 universities in the top 1,000 list, compared to 146 five years ago. Notably, in the last decade, China has gone from zero to 10 places in the top 100. This does not include the University of Hong Kong which the ranking also lists as Chinese institution, ranked at 87.
Beijing’s Tsinghua University was ranked the top Asian institution at position 22.
“Europe, despite all the palaver about excellence initiatives, etc, has barely moved,” added Usher.
“Europe, despite all the palaver about excellence initiatives, etc, has barely moved”
“There is a middle-tier of countries with a solid core of top research unis whose rankings don’t move around very much each year: Germany, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland.”
Overall, Spanish institutions positioned lower in the rankings. Last year, 40 institutions appeared in the list, with 38 this year. Some 19 of those have fallen places, 2 have risen and 19 have remained in the same spot.
One professor at the University of Granada, which placed in the 201-300 rank category, wonders where the institution would place with a budget similar to one of the largest institutions.
The highest EU university in the list is France’s Université Paris-Saclay ranked at 15.
“Our university has proven that its model is robust and recognised internationally,” said Estelle Iacona, president of Université Paris-Saclay.
“Our graduates can take pride in the national and international appreciation of their degrees and the laboratories which we supervise and jointly supervise can also enjoy the benefits of this recognition.”
Some stakeholders have questioned the ranking’s criteria, which is based on research quality and reputation.
He highlighted that although top spots are dominated by “pricier American institutions”, he questions if the universities were ranked on value for money, would they remain in their peak positions.