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North American, Nordic countries ‘best’ for HE

North American, Nordic countries ‘best’ for HE

Lead author, Prof Ross Williams of the University of Melbourne explains the research
Lead author, Prof Ross Williams of the University of Melbourne explains the research
“Students choose countries to study in as much as individual institutions”

Researchers looked at the most recent data from 48 countries across 20 different measures grouped under four headings: resources, output, connectivity and environment. Population size was accounted for in the calculations.

“More transparency and clarity is needed around the comparative strengths and qualities of national education systems around the world in order to encourage knowledge-sharing, collaboration and development of opportunities for students in all countries,” said Jane Usherwood, Secretary General of Universitas 21.

“We hope the Universitas 21 Ranking will become an established point of reference for policy-makers, education institutions and development bodies globally.”

The USA and the UK are considered to have the world’s top universities in most other rankings systems. But on a weighted per capita basis, the depth of world class universities is best in Switzerland and Sweden, with Israel and Denmark next in rank order.

“While there are a number of well-regarded global rankings of individual institutions, these don’t shed any light on the broader picture of how well a nation’s system educates its students,” said lead author, Professor Ross Williams at the University of Melbourne. “Students choose countries to study in as much as individual institutions, and the Universitas 21 Ranking offers clear data to support decision-making.”

On a weighted per capita basis, the depth of world class universities is best in Switzerland and Sweden

He emphasised that “in a globalised world, a strong higher education system is essential if a nation is to be economically competitive.”

Government funding of higher education as a percentage of GDP is highest in Finland, Norway and Denmark, but when private expenditure is added in, funding is highest in the United States, Korea, Canada and Chile.

Investment in Research and Development is highest in Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. The United States dominates the total output of research journal articles, but ranks in the bottom 25% of countries for international research collaboration along with China, India, Japan.

The highest participation rates in higher education are in Korea, Finland, Greece and the USA. Other interesting snippets include the fact that the countries with the most workers with a higher level education are Russia, Canada, Israel, the USA.

The countries with the most workers with a higher level education are Russia, Canada, Israel, the USA

In three countries, Chile, Mexico and Indonesia, the unemployment rate was higher for those with tertiary education than those who completed only secondary school. The report suggest these figures are perhaps “indicative of a tertiary education sector that is not producing the needed mix of graduates.”

Gender equality fared well in most countries with all but eight reporting that at least 50% of students were female. The lowest percentages were in India and Korea. On the other hand, in only five countries were at least 50 per cent of staff female. The lowest percentages were in Iran and Japan.

Researchers were selective in their choice of countries- choosing from around 50 from a data base of 200- so that those at the bottom of their rankings could be expected to be well above the median ranking of all countries.

Omitted countries include lower income nations in Africa and Latin America. “Even in the medium term these countries cannot expect their systems to reach the levels of our top ranked countries,” says the report.

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