Measure 3: Connectivity

How ‘Connectivity’ was measured and the results the 2016 study produced.

Connectivity encompasses the two-way flow of information between the higher education sector and the rest of society. The worth of a national higher education system is enhanced if it is well connected with the rest of the nation’s society and is linked internationally in education and research. Connectivity promotes technical change and economic growth. We use six measures:

  • C1: (4%) Proportion of international students in tertiary education, 2013.
  • C2: (4%) Proportion of articles co-authored with international collaborators, 2013. 
  • C3: (2%) Number of open access full text files on the web, per head of population, July 2015.
  • C4: (2%) External links that university web domains receive from third parties, per head of population, 2015.

The data for C3 and C4 include all tertiary institutions ranked in the top 10,000 in the world.

  • C5: (4%) Responses to question ‘Knowledge transfer is highly developed between companies and universities’, asked of business executives in the annual survey by IMD World Development Centre, Switzerland, 2015. 
  • C6: (4%) Percentage of university research publications that are co-authored with industry researchers, 2011-13. 


The top five nations in rank order are Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, the United Kingdom and Belgium. Belgium has risen from ninth in last year’s rankings replacing Sweden (which has fallen to seventh) in the top five. Falls in rank include Bulgaria from 36th to 41st owing largely to a reduction in joint publications with international authors (C2). More accurate data for international students (C1) accounts for the falls in the rankings of South Africa (26th to 30th) and Ukraine (41st to 46th).

For our 50 countries, the proportion of articles co-written with an international collaborator (C2) again averages 41 per cent. The top four countries remain the same as in last year’s rankings: Saudi Arabia (71 per cent), Hong Kong SAR (64 per cent), Switzerland (62 per cent) and Belgium (59 per cent). New Zealand and Singapore have improved three places in internationally co-written papers to tenth and fifth, respectively; Bulgaria has slipped ten places to 39th. There has been a slight decline in the percentage of articles co-written with industry (C6) from 4.6 per cent in last year’s rankings to 4.3 per cent but little change in the rankings. (Note that two of the three years of data are common to both years of ranking.) The six most highly ranked countries are in order Denmark, Sweden, Japan, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, where the share ranges from 7.8 to 8.4 per cent. Bulgaria’s rank has fallen seven places to 30th, reversing the improvement in last year’s rankings.

The top countries for knowledge transfer in the IMD survey of business executives (C5) are, in rank order, Switzerland, Israel and in equal third place Canada and the United States. Canada has risen from 11th place in last year’s rankings. Other countries to have risen in rank are New Zealand (22nd to 14th) the Czech Republic (40th to 30th) and Romania (32nd to 24th). Countries that fell in rank include Sweden (down seven places to 17th) and Hungary (down ten places to 36th).
Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom again have the highest proportion of international students (C1). The United States is ranked a clear first for web impact (C4) followed by Switzerland. Taiwan-China and the Czech Republic are ranked first for web presence (C3).