China boasts more top universities than any other emerging economy, according to a ranking that looks beyond the usual suspects in global higher education league tables.
The inaugural Times Higher Education BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings consider universities in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, as well as 17 other “emerging economies”.
Peking University tops the table, with Tsinghua University (based in Beijing) second. Four of the top 10 and 23 of the top 100 institutions are Chinese. The next best represented countries are Taiwan (21), India (10), Turkey (seven), then South Africa and Thailand (five each).
Ziming Cai, lecturer in human resource management at the University of Nottingham, explained that Chinese universities have enjoyed “huge financial investment” over the past three decades.
Special funding was set aside to propel 39 of its universities to “top-tier” global status, he said.
The government had also encouraged Chinese universities to open up to the rest of the world by establishing joint programmes with Western institutions and by pushing academics to publish in international journals, he added.
According to Simon Marginson, professor of international higher education at the Institute of Education, University of London, the Chinese sector was “pretty strong” and growing stronger. There were “very few countries” with a per capita gross domestic product below $15,000 (£9,200) that did well in global rankings, but China was an “interesting exception”. In comparison, “India hasn’t had 15 years of constant funding”, nor had it benchmarked itself against other countries.
Russia has only two representatives in the table, fewer than the former Soviet satellite states Poland (four) and the Czech Republic (three).
“Russia is in the doldrums,” said Professor Marginson, who argued that its system was “inward-looking” and hampered by the fact that publishing in Russian made it difficult to disseminate its research worldwide.
Although they were considered in the analysis, no universities from Indonesia, Pakistan, Peru or the Philippines made the table, which uses the same methodology as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-2014. Factors considered include scholarly citations, research income and the proportion of foreign students.
The 22 countries analysed are those defined as emerging markets by the FTSE Group’s Country Classification.
BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings 2014 top 10
|3||University of Cape Town||South Africa|
|4||National Taiwan University||Taiwan|
|6||University of Science and Technology of China||China|
|7||Istanbul Technical University||Turkey|
|9||Middle East Technical University||Turkey|
|10||Lomonosov Moscow State University||Russian Federation|