On 4 November, during the World Innovation Summit for Education in Qatar, US News & World Report launched its rankings of 91 Arab universities. The rankings, including a general chart plus 16 subject charts, are the first assessments of universities in the Arab region and they cover 16 countries over the period 2009-2013. This time period was chosen since many Arab region universities have only recently begun emphasizing the importance of their faculty publishing in journals and engaging in research. However US News has stated that this version of the rankings is just the beginning of a long-term project to develop surveys and rankings for the region.
of the rankings is based on bibliometric data and research metrics provided by Scopus (the abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature of Elsevier Research Intelligence) focusing exclusively on institutions' academic research output and performance, emphasizing factors such as getting published in peer-reviewed journals, getting those publications cited by other researchers in their work, and having a paper highly cited in its field. Nevertheless, their methodology differs from the Global Best University Rankings, launched by US News & World Report last October (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe
, Edition October 2014
). Different parameters are taken into consideration: omitted from the Arab formula are for instance indicators such as research reputation, international collaboration and number of PhD awarded.
The top three positions are fully occupied by Saudi Arabia: in first place King Saud University, followed by King Abdulaziz University, and in third position is King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which was formed only in 2009 and has today the third largest endowment after Harvard and Yale. Saudi universities come on top in all the different subject rankings, except for the social sciences where it is Lebanon’s American University of Beirut that holds the first position.
The rankings reveal a large concentration of top-ranked universities in a few countries: Egypt has the largest number of institutions in the league table and, together with Algeria and Saudi Arabia, these three countries account for 52% of the total. The seven countries that performed best (which are, beyond the three top ones, also Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates) account all together for 85% of the total universities of the regional chart, which implies that the geography of Arab education tends to be far from homogeneous, flourishing in some areas and leaving many other parts uncovered.