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The 2017 Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU) has been released in August by the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy. Since 2003, ARWU has been presenting an annual ranking of the top 500 universities in the world, out of more than 1200 ranked. But this year, for the first time, ShanghaiRanking offers also the list of universities ranked between 501 and 800. As the highest positions slightly differ from 2016, the inclusion of 300 more universities in the list seems to be one of the major changes in this year edition.
Harvard University remains the first ranked institution in the world for the 15th consecutive year. It is followed by Stanford University (2nd) and University of Cambridge (3rd). The latter has overtaken Berkeley University of California, that last year was 3rd, while now is 5th, after Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT (4th). Princeton University and University of Oxford respectively maintain the 6th and 7th position. Columbia University and California Institute of Technology have swapped 7th and 8th place, with the latter giving up a place.
The entrance of Washington University among the top 20 universities of the world is noteworthy. It climbed over the University of Tokyo, which has slipped down from the 20th position in 2016 to the 24th this year, even though it remains the highest ranked university in Asia. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (19th) is maintaining the primacy as the top ranked university in Continental Europe, followed by University of Copenhagen (30th) and Marie Curie University (40th) in France.
Looking at the geographical distribution, the US maintains its position at the forefront with 16 institutions in the top 20 (one more than last year) and 135 in the top 500, followed by China with 57 in the top 500. UK institutions occupy three places in the top 20 and 38 in the top 500. Concerning the universities ranked between 501 and 800, US and Chinese institutions share in this case the primacy with 55 institutions in the last 300 positions, preceding Italy with 21 and Japan with 19.
All in all, this year’s ARWU scoreboard does not show any relevant difference from the previous edition, with US and the UK still leading the ranking. Perhaps, the most significant change is the absence of Asian institutions at the highest positions, given that Tokyo University has dropped four positions, ending out of the top 20.