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The Shanghai ranking: brands and trends

Another edition of the ARWU Shanghai ranking brings another top-score performance of US universities. On the overall list of top 500 universities in 2014, US institutions take up 146 places and 16 of them are amongst the top 20. Just like every year, Harvard tops the list, followed by Stanford in the 2nd, MIT in the 3rd and Berkeley in the 4th place, and then come other usual suspects. The four high-scorers outside the US are European: Cambridge still at number 5, Oxford at the 9th place and the Swiss ETH Zurich at 19th, both up one place since last year. The University College London is again after 3 years among the top 20, leaving behind the University of Tokyo and adding up to the UK top 20 score. 

Europe is represented by 205 universities overall - 5 more than last year - as well as by 5 more among the top 200 (80). Most European institutions come from Germany (39) and the UK (38), followed by France and Italy with 21 universities each in the top 500 list. KU Leuven and University of Amsterdam are two European universities to appear for the first time amongst the top 100 universities on the Shanghai scoreboard. China is still the second most represented country after the US. With 44 universities this year – 2 more than in 2013 - it shows a continual increase over years. However, it still needs to pave its way to the top 100 group, which - apart from the US and Europe - hosts universities from Australia (4), Canada (4), Japan (3) and Israel (2).  Out of 10 Latin American universities on the overall list, the highest ranked ones are the University of Sao Paulo and the University of Buenos Aires, but neither made it to the top 100. African universities are still fewest – only 5. The only two African countries represented in the ranking are South Africa with 4 and Egypt with 1 institution. Australia scores quite consistently. For the fourth year in a row, 19 Australian institutions appear among top 500 institutions. Their number among top 100 has been fluctuating between 3 and 5 in the last five years but, in general, no major shifts have taken place. 

The 12th anniversary of one of the most influential global university rankings does not bring gigantic changes in the overall picture. It does, however, point to certain trends. For example, the number of US universities has been decreasing over the past few years. Despite another convincing lead on the 2014 chart, the US score displays a slight but consistent drop. From 154 institutions in 2010, the number gradually dropped to 149 on the 2013 and 146 in 2014. Until this year, the US had 17 institutions among the top 20. On the other hand, a reverse trend can be observed for China: more and more Chinese universities are joining the top 500 list each year. In the last five years, the number of China’s higher education institutions has increased by 10: from 34 in 2010 to 44 in 2014.  As already noted, despite the increase, Chinese institutions have not yet made it into the top 100 list. In relative terms, the ranking shows great scores by smaller European countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland or Belgium, who respectively feature 13, 7 and 7 universities on the chart and have respectively 4, 5 and 2 universities amongst the top 100. 

ARWU ranking 2014