The best national higher education systems in 2019

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According to U21 Ranking, the three best national higher education systems of 2019 are the United States, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Universitas 21 (U21) has published its eighth annual ranking of national systems of higher education. The ranking reflects the education and training of a nation’s citizens, the contribution to innovation through research, and collaboration with tertiary institutions and external stakeholders.

“Now in its eighth year, this unique higher education ranking provides a data-rich analysis of the characteristics, impact, connectivity, and efficiency of national higher education systems.,” said Professor Sir David Eastwood, Chair of Universitas 21. “These indicators go beyond the traditional comparison of institutions and reflect the overall aims of higher education, including the training of a nation’s people, contributing to innovation through research, and facilitating interconnections between tertiary institutions and external stakeholders.”

As opposed to traditional university rankings, this classification differentiates from others because it evaluates higher education systems instead of universities. The report, produced by Professor Ross Williams at the University of Melbourne, the lead author, included 24 performance measurements grouped into four modules:

  1. Resources: public or private, resources are a necessary condition for a well-functioning system of higher education.

  2. Environment: this module included measures of institutional autonomy, external monitoring of performance and diversity.

  3. Connectivity: international student numbers, joint publications with international authors and with authors from industry, web connectivity and the views of business on the extent of knowledge transfer.

  4. Output: this module evaluates research output and its impact, student throughput, the national stock of graduates and researchers, the quality of a nation’s best universities, and the employability of graduates.


According to the ranking, the top three countries of 2019 are the United States, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Finland, and the Netherlands.

This year, the report also includes a subsidiary ranking that compares how nations perform relative to countries at similar levels of GDP per capita. The top five ranked countries in this subsidiary ranking are, in order, the United Kingdom, Finland, Serbia, South Africa, and Denmark.

For more information about U21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems 2019, visit the ranking page: https://universitas21.com/network/u21-open-resources-and-publications/u21-rankings/u21-ranking-national-higher-education