The top five higher education systems are the United States followed by Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark, according to the latest Universitas 21 Ranking.
After the top five came Finland, Netherlands, Canada, Singapore and Australia.
The 2018 report ranks 50 countries across four areas (resources, environment, connectivity and output) and overall. The main ranking compares a country’s performance against the best in the world on each measure.
The ranking examined 24 measures across the four areas and overall, allowing them to create a very detailed picture of the higher education system across 50 countries.
The highest placed Asian country was Singapore, followed by Hong Kong, down three places at 17th, Japan (20), Taiwan-China (21st), South Korea (22nd), Malaysia (26th) and China (static at 30th), then a big gap to Iran (48th), India (49th) and Indonesia (50th).
European countries took 12 of the top 20 places – outside of the top 10 Austria (11th), Norway (12th) and Belgium (13th) outperformed Germany (15th) and France (16th), with Ireland 19th.
South Africa (37th) was the only African country represented in the top 50.
Among Latin American countries, the highest was Chile (34th), followed by Brazil (39th), Argentina (40th) and Mexico (46th).
Among Middle Eastern countries, Israel came 18th and Saudi Arabia 25th.
Commenting on this year’s results, lead author of the report Professor Ross Williams said the ranking shows the importance of collaboration and interconnectivity.
“The most successful national systems exhibit strong connectivity between institutions of higher education, government and the private sector,” he said.
One of the interesting tables in the report is the overall ranking controlled for economic development, which puts Finland top, followed by the UK, Serbia, Denmark and Sweden.
Nine countries improve their ranking by more than 10 places. Serbia, South Africa and India improve by more than 20 places. The countries that improve by between 11 and 20 places are Brazil, China, Greece, Iran, Portugal and Ukraine.