Denmark has the third best higher educational system

Denmark has the third best higher educational system

Denmark has the third best higher educational system

The 2016 Universitas 21 Ranking ranks 50 countries separately by four areas, given an overall score. Once again Denmark is in the top 3.

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. The essential logic behind the development of national rankings is that it is the higher education system as a whole, not just research intensive universities, that matters for the economic and cultural development of a nation.  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 2016 Ranking includes the same 50 countries as in previous reports, which have again been ranked separately by four areas and also given an overall rating. New for 2016 is the productivity and drivers of research for the higher education sector, taking into account the relationships between inputs (resources and Environment) and outcomes (output and connectivity).

Aggregating to obtain an overall ranking, the top ten countries are:

The top three countries, in order, are the United States, Switzerland and Denmark, the same as in last year’s ranking. The United Kingdom is now ranked fourth, a rise of four places from last year’s ranking. Next in order are Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Singapore. Canada has fallen three places to ninth with Australia tenth.

Comparing the change in rankings over the four-year period 2013 to 2016, China shows the greatest improvement, rising 12 places. South Africa has risen nine places and the United Kingdom six places.

Compared to the original rankings, six countries are now ranked at least fifteen places higher. These countries are, in order of the ranking improvement, Serbia, India, South Africa, China, Portugal and Brazil.

As in 2015, 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.

GDP Adjusted Rank in 2016 Country Rank in 2015
1 United Kingdom 2
2 Serbia 1
3 Denmark 3
3 Sweden 4
5 China 16
6 Finland 5
7 South Africa 10
8 Portugal 6
=9 Canada 7
=9 New Zealand 9

Using this adjustment, a number of lower income countries rise up markedly in the rankings: South Africa to 7th and China to 5th from 16th in 2015.

The four more detailed areas of comparison are:

  • Resources (expenditure  by government and private sector on teaching and research )The highest ranked countries for Resources are Denmark, Singapore, the United States, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland, in that order. The United Kingdom shows the greatest improvement over last year’s rankings.
  • Output (research and its impact, quality of the best institutions, and the production of an educated workforce which meets labour market needs)The top two countries in the Output ranking are the United States and the United Kingdom. The scores for the next five countries are very close together, in order they are; Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Canada. The rankings are similar to last year’s rankings except that Australia and Canada have swapped positions.
  • Connectivity (international networks and collaboration with industry)The top five leaders in Connectivity in rank order are; Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, the United Kingdom and Belgium.
  • Environment (government policy and regulation, financial autonomy and diversity)The environment for higher education is judged to be best in the United States, Hong Kong SAR, Finland, New Zealand and the Netherlands, the same as last year’s rankings.The research authors, based at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, looked at 25 measures across these four areas, allowing them to create a very detailed picture of the higher education system in each country.Speaking on the launch of this year’s rankings, Lead author, Professor Ross Williams at the University of Melbourne, said: “The U21 rankings not only provide a benchmark that a country can use to evaluate the performance of its higher education system but also give insights into how performance can be improved.   Our measures of government policy and resource inputs explain around two-thirds of performance in research, teaching and engagement with industry.Jane Usherwood, U21’s Secretary General, also commented: “Now in its fifth year, the U21 Rankings provide a valuable tool for policy makers and commentators who are interested in the contexts within which universities operate. Producing a ranking adjusted for levels of economic development, measures of productivity of the higher education sector, as well as the overall results gives a real insight into the realities in which major universities around the world, including Universitas 21 members, operate.  We are pleased that so many ministries of education and other interested parties are now using this data to help guide debate about the role of higher education in their country.”The full 2016 Ranking report is available below 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. For more, please follow the links below:

Ranking report and data:

Interactive map: