Regional Rankings Still A Key Measure Of Academic Influence

Asian students


Based on the latest rankings for higher education, almost one in eight of the global’s top 200 universities are from Asia, as ranked in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014/15. A similar pattern holds true for the QS World University Rankings 2014/15 where one in five universities in the top 200 are from Asia. This year alone, the region further added four additional institutions to the THE’s Top 200; at this pace, a quarter of the world’s best universities could be Asia by 2040, excluding Australian universities, which some consider as part of the Asian block. The gains Asian universities have made in recent years provide an interesting trend of the growing influence of higher learning in the region.
Editor of Times Higher Education Rankings, Phil Baty says, “The world expects that Asia will be the next global higher education superpower.”

These numbers are no mere matter methodology. Instead, the growing number of institutions from emerging economies brings to light the acceleration of higher education and more importantly, the significant investments in building capacity and capabilities for teaching and research. It is in recent years that we’re feeling the impact in terms of mobility.

As an example, enrollment in the US from China has experienced a shift in recent years. More Chinese students are pursuing undergraduate programs in the US while overall demand for US graduate programs – traditionally the core of enrollment of Chinese to the US – has dipped. While there are several factors that contribute to this, perhaps the most profound is the growing strength of academics of universities in China, and across the region. This growth is in tandem with the efforts China has pumped into its higher education sector, more specifically its graduate education, across thousands of universities. With the majority of its professors having received a Western education, the calibre, style and quality of teaching very much mirrors that of the West as well. In short, Chinese students have better access to world-class graduate studies at home; as such, more and more students are making that choice.


Stacking up in regional rankings

chinese asian students studying


To further affirm the rising influence of institutions based outside of North America and Europe, both QS and Times Higher Education have included various regional rankings over the last few years. In particular, both now include rankings specific for Asia and key emerging markets.
The top three universities in Asia are led by The University of Tokyo, National University of Singapore and University of Hong Kong, based on THE Asia University Rankings 2015. More interestingly though, the recent rankings published by both THE and QS points to a conclusive trend – where the balance of power is tilting towards China.
Year on year, based on THE rankings, 21 universities from China are in Top 100, up from 15 the previous year. The QS rankings affirms a similar trend, where of the Top 100 universities in Asia, 25 are from China, with 16 of them improving their rankings year on year. China also tops the list for having the most represented number of universities in the Top 300 at 74 universities based on the QS University Rankings: Asia 2015.

BRIC influence

Following suit on China’s heels, other emerging markets like South Africa, Brazil and Saudia Arabia are also stepping up their game and playing a more prominent role in their respective regions.
University World News states, “Student enrollment has increased dramatically to the point where more than one in three students in the world today live in a BRICs country.” While there’s increased ease of access to more students, sustaining big investments in research and quality education is yet another thing to consider. With that, such regional rankings help to offer some valuable insight.
What these regional tables provide is a compass on the moving tides of academic influence to identify potential institutions that may break through to the global ranking tables. “Overall, ten universities from emerging economies made the 2014/15 global top 200 list, compared with just five in 2013/14,” said Mr. Baty. Overall, we’re starting to witness the impact that emerging economies will have in the area of higher education. In just one year, the number of universities that have made it to the global list have doubled.
Based on Times Higher Education BRICs table, China leads the pack with 27 institutions in the top 100, followed by Taiwan (19) and India (11). The QS University Rankings: BRICs 2015 again affirms China’s stronghold with 67 universities in the top 200. At the top end of the ranking, Chinese universities account for close to half with 21 universities in the top 50 compared to Brazil’s ten, India’s nine and Russia’s seven. QS believes that China will continue to dominate the regional rankings and make a stronger impact in global tables for the foreseeable future. QS states, “China now spends more on research and development than any other country other than the US. It is forecast to overtake the entire European Union and the US on this measure by the end of the current decade with a national target of investing 2.5% of GDP on research.”
As we continue to look at these trends signaling the rise of academic influence from emerging countries, regional rankings will continue to play an important role to offer a snapshot and give insights for educators, students as well as governments. More importantly, the data from these tables will also provide a more telling picture on student mobility to and from emerging economies around the world.