World’s most prestigious universities 2016

Asia increases its standing in this year's Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings

May 4, 2016
University of Tokyo students walking on campus
Source: iStock
Yasuda Auditorium, University of Tokyo

View Times Higher Education's full list of the World Reputation Rankings 2016


Asia has increased its share of institutions in a global ranking of the world’s most prestigious universities.

The continent has 18 institutions in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2016, up from 10 last year. Its top performer – Japan’s University of Tokyo – held on to 12th place, while China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University leaped eight and 11 places, respectively, to reach 18th and 21st place.

These two nations also led the region in the number of representatives in the top 100 list with five universities each, up from two each last year.

Meanwhile, South Korea and Hong Kong both gained one representative in the ranking, taking their total to two and three, respectively. Seoul National University and the University of Hong Kong, the nations’ top performers, sit in joint 45th place, up from the 51-60 band last year.


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Asia’s strong performance in this year’s ranking of the world’s most prestigious universities, based on an invitation-only survey of top academics, follows the continent’s growing presence in the flagship THE World University Rankings in recent years.

In contrast, several European nations have lost ground. The UK remains the second most-represented nation in the list, with 10 universities, even though two institutions – the University of Bristol and Durham University – have fallen out of the top 100. Seven of the 10 have slipped to lower positions.

Four of Germany’s six institutions and four of the Netherlands’ five representatives have also dropped down the list, while Denmark and Finland no longer feature among the top 100. They each had one institution in last year’s reputation ranking.


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In many cases, these European universities achieved similar or higher scores than they did last year, but they did not improve as rapidly as institutions in Asia.

Paul Blackmore, professor of higher education at King’s College London’s Policy Institute, said that Asia’s stronger performance is the result of a combination of “undoubted growth in university systems” and “of more being known [about them] among those giving a view”.

“We’ve had a highly Anglo-Saxon view of higher education for many years, and that can’t be sustained for much longer,” he said.

Joshua Mok Ka-Ho, vice-president and chair professor of comparative policy at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, added that Asia’s performance reflects heavy higher education investments from many governments in the region as well as universities concentrating funding on strengthening their research capabilities and publishing in international journals.


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“Such self-enhancing and advancing trends will continue, particularly when an increasing number of governments in Asia have recognised the importance of research, knowledge transfer, innovation and technology in transforming the economy and society,” he said.

He added that universities in Europe “should look for cooperation opportunities” in Asia, particularly as “Asian universities are keen to engage in regional and international research attached with funding support”.

The THE World Reputation Rankings 2016 is based on a survey of more than 10,000 top scholars from around the world. Each academic was asked to name up to 15 universities that they believe are the best for research and teaching in their discipline. Votes for institutions based on research prowess were given twice the weight of those for teaching.

ellie.bothwell@tesglobal.com


Claim a free copy of the full World Reputation Rankings 2016 digital supplement


World's 10 most prestigious universities 2016

2016 reputation rank 2015 reputation rank Institution Country 2015-16 WUR position
1 1 Harvard University United States 6
2 4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States 5
3 5 Stanford University United States 3
4 2 University of Cambridge United Kingdom 4
5 3 University of Oxford United Kingdom 2
6 6 University of California, Berkeley United States 13
7 7 Princeton University United States 7
8 8 Yale University United States 12
9 10 Columbia University United States 15
10 9 California Institute of Technology United States 1

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Print headline: Asian institutions rise in the eyes of the world

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