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Eagerly awaited by both critics and fans alike, Shanghai Jiao Tong University has recently released its 2010 edition of the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). First undertaken in 2003, this well-known ranking was originally designed to measure China's own progress towards its self-set goal of creating world-class universities; however, in present practice it has become a point of reference for world-wide rankings.
As in every year since its inception, the ‘Shanghai ranking’ continues to be led by Harvard University, with the rest of the top ten being made up of eight US and two UK universities. Overall, the US once again leads the league table, with 54 out of the top 100 schools. As in all the years before, California outperforms the other US states, with six schools in the top 20. Europe has more than held its weight this year, with 33 universities in the first 100 (compared with 32 in 2009). Of those 33 universities, 11 are in the UK. Unsurprisingly, the highest ranked continental European university is again the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich). When controlled for size, some smaller European countries are doing remarkably well: Switzerland has three universities in the top 100, as does Sweden; all of this is an improvement compared to 2009. Again, southern Europe is absent from the top 100, with the first Italian university in the 100-150 ranks and the first Spanish one in the 200-300 range.
China has seen a steep rise since 2004. Though not yet represented among the leading 150, the country now has 22 universities in the top 500, compared to just nine in 2004. Also, visible progress has also been made by universities in Korea, Brazil and the Middle East. Africa and Latin America are totally absent from the leading 100, though universities from South Africa, Argentina, Chile and Brazil are represented in the overall 500.