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ARWU: US and Europe still lead

As in all the previous years, Harvard University is the number 1 institution in the 2012 edition of the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), and eight of the top ten universities are from the United States (US). Cambridge and Oxford are, as in the past, the remaining two in the leading ten.

The broader picture also reveals the continuing dominance of the US and of the West more generally. 85 out of the leading 200 universities (or 42.5%) are US institutions, and 75 (37.5%) of this group are European. UK institutions lead the rest of Europe with 19 out of the top 200, followed by Germany with 14. Not unsurprisingly, the vast majority of top-200 universities in Europe are from the northern and western part of the continent, with the south and the east performing less well. Measured against the size of their higher education system, small countries such as the Netherlands (8), Switzerland (6) and Sweden (5) are highly successful.

Africa is still the least represented continent, with no single university in the top 200 (but four in the leading 500). Latin America contributes only three. 22 of the top 200 universities are located in Asia, of which nine in Japan and seven in China (42 in the top 500) - these numbers include also universities from Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan. China has clearly made progress in the last ten years. In 2003, when ARWU was started, China had only one university in the first 200, and 10 in the top 500. It is now the second country behind the US and ahead of the UK in the top 500. No such development has taken place in India, which has only one university in the top 500.

ARWU, informally also referred to as the ‘Shanghai ranking’, was set up by the Chinese government to measure progress towards its self-set goal of creating a critical mass of Chinese ‘world-class’ universities. It is conducted by the Center for World-Class Universities of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (CWCU) in China. The 2012 rankings mark the tenth anniversary of ARWU.

ARWU 2012