2014 Universitas 21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems

Birmingham, United Kingdom, May 18, 2014 --(PR.com)-- The Universitas 21 Ranking is the only one in the world to assess national higher education systems, and meets a longstanding need to shift discussion from the ranking of the world's best universities, to the best overall systems in each country. It has been developed as a benchmark for governments, education institutions and individuals, and aims to highlight the importance of:

• Creating a strong environment for higher education institutions to contribute to economic and cultural development
• Providing a high-quality experience for students
• Helping institutions to compete for overseas applicants

The first Ranking report was published in May 2012, with a second following in May 2013. The results of the third annual Universitas 21 Ranking were announced on 15 May, 2014 at the University of Glasgow, UK.

The 2014 Ranking includes the same 50 countries as in the 2013 report, which have again been ranked separately in four areas (Resources, Environment, Connectivity and Output) and overall. The research authors, based at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, looked at 24 measures across these four areas, allowing them to create a very detailed picture of the higher education system in each country. New for 2014, this data has also been compared against the values expected at each country's level of economic development, to create a second and separate set of ranking results. Overall, the top 10 ranked countries in 2014 are:

1 United States of America
2 Sweden
3 Canada
3 Denmark
5 Finland
6 Switzerland
7 Netherlands
8 United Kingdom
9 Australia
10 Singapore

This list contains the same countries as in the 2013 Ranking, but the order has changed a little. The relative nature of the Rankings is exemplified by Switzerland, which has fallen three places even though its score remained constant. The largest changes in rankings since last year are an improvement of eight places by China, a rise of five places for Hungary, and a fall of seven places for Ukraine.

In the new auxiliary ranking, countries are scored on how they perform on each of the 24 measures, relative to countries at similar stages of economic development as measured by GDP per capita (using purchasing power parity exchange rates). This produces marked changes in the original ranking. The top 10 ranked countries when using this approach are:

1 Sweden
2 Finland
3 Denmark
4 Serbia
5 New Zealand
6 United Kingdom
7 Canada
8 Portugal
9 China
10 Netherlands

As expected, the biggest changes occasioned by allowing for income levels occur at both extremes. Serbia, South Africa, India and China all rise by over 25 places in the rankings. Conversely, four high income countries (Singapore, Norway, the United States and Hong Kong SAR) fall markedly in the rankings. A noticeable feature is that several lower income countries show significant improvements in the Connectivity measure ranking, an activity that is likely to be most beneficial to economic growth.

Lead author, Professor Ross Williams at the University of Melbourne, said of the 2014 report:

"The U21 rankings provide a benchmark that a country can use to evaluate the performance of its higher education system against the world's best and against countries at similar levels of economic development. The 2014 rankings emphasise the important role of tertiary institutions in promoting knowledge transfer through connectivity within their own societies and internationally."

Jane Usherwood, Universitas 21 Secretary General, also commented:

"Universitas 21 is delighted to support this important work, looking at systems of higher education, for this third year. There are many ways of looking at the performance of individual universities, and as many critics of the methodologies as those who use them. The U21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems is unique in that it looks at the context in which universities operate around the world. The 2014 ranking extends this approach by including measures of economic development, and that has a profound effect on the ranking of the national system by levelling out the playing field for comparison."

The full 2014 Ranking report and all data can be found on the U21 website, along with an interactive map containing a country-specific summary for each of the 50 countries included in the report:

Ranking report and data: www.universitas21.com/link/rankings
Interactive map: www.universitas21.com/ranking/map

The site also contains a data comparison tool, which allows users to directly compare the overall ranking and individual measure results from all countries across 2012, 2013 and 2014:

Data Comparison tool: www.universitas21.com/ranking
Universitas 21
Lucy Smith
44 7825 055 535