A strong focus on research leads China to the top places in THE World University Rankings 2019


China surprises in the most recent world university ranking, France advances positions thanks to the fusion of its 5 top universities, and the University of Oxford is, once again, the number one in the world.

The Tsinghua University, Beijing. / Photo: Shan Zhong

China is advancing in university rankings by giant leaps. Only a few days ago we reported that the Asian country swept in the Top 10 of emerging institutions in scientific research of 2018, according to the Nature Index, a classification that distinguishes universities and institutes considered as rising stars in scientific research. In this index, the country occupied 9 of the top 10 places in the table, with the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences as number 1 in the world.

And yesterday China returned to the headlines, this time for the most recent edition of the World University Rankings published by Times Higher Education (THE), in which it stood out as the country that now houses the most important Asian university.

Tsinghua University has surpassed the National University of Singapore to become the best university in Asia in THE World University Rankings 2019 after having risen eight places and ranked 22nd in the world. In total, 72 Chinese universities are listed in the table, which makes it the fourth most represented nation in the world.

"[Tsinghua University] It’s easily the number one university in the world for high citation research in mathematics and computing – a combined field in which China has now moved well ahead of the US and, further back, Europe. It is near the top of the world, and rising fast, in physical sciences and engineering,” reported Simon Marginson, a professor at the University of Oxford and director of the Center for Global Higher Education.

With a strong commitment to research, China is making progress thanks to its efforts to improve the quantity and quality of the research carried out in the country. This effort is part of an ambitious long-term plan called Double First Class University Plan, a government plan that aims to create and develop a group of world-class universities and disciplines by the end of 2050.

France is another country highlighted this year by the Times Higher Education, with Le Sorbonne (University of the Sorbonne) as the best French university in the table. The London publication highlights that the French university merger program, the 5 grandes écoles, is paying off, improving the performance and international visibility of its leading universities: the École Polytechnique, ENSTA ParisTech, Telecom ParisTech, Telecom Sud Paris, and the ENSAE ParisTech, which must be merged formally by the spring of 2019.

THE ranking

This 15th edition includes more than 1,250 higher education institutions from 86 countries around the world. According to the publication, this is the only table of global university performance that evaluates intensive research universities in all their main missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international perspectives.

In the Top 10, there are not many surprises. The University of Oxford and Cambridge repeat the leadership this year placing in the first and second place of the table, respectively. They are followed by Stanford and MIT, which this year climbed one position, displacing the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to fifth place.

Top 10 - THE World University Ranking 2019

  1. University of Oxford (United Kingdom)

  2. University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)

  3. Stanford University (United States)

  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)

  5. California Institute of Technology (United States)

  6. Harvard University (United States)

  7. Princeton University (United States)

  8. Yale University (United States)

  9. Imperial College London (United Kingdom)

  10. University of Chicago (United States)


The best universities in the United States

This year, the California Institute of Technology was ousted from first place by Stanford University, losing two positions compared to last year. Yale climbed two spots, while Berkeley escalated from the #13 to the #10 this year.

Top 10 US Universities

  1. Stanford University

  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  3. California Institute of Technology

  4. Harvard University

  5. Princeton University

  6. Yale University

  7. University of Chicago

  8. Johns Hopkins University

  9. University of Pennsylvania

  10. University of California, Berkeley

Photo by King of Hearts.

Photo by King of Hearts.

To see the full table of universities, visit the Times Higher Education website.