Measure 3: Connectivity

How ‘Connectivity’ was measured and the results the 2017 study produced.

Connectivity (weight of 20%)

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, 2014.
  • C2: (4%) Proportion of articles co-authored with international collaborators, 2014 (coverage is all institutions that publish at least 100 papers). 
  • C3: (2%) Webometrics Web TRANSPARENCY measure: sum of values from 4,200 universities divided by country’s population, July 2016 edition. 
  • C4: (2%) Webometrics VISIBILITY index (external links that university web domains receive from third parties). Sum of data for 10,000 tertiary institutions divided by country’s population, July 2016 edition. 
  • 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, 2016. 
  • C6: (4%) Percentage of university research publications that are co-authored with industry researchers, 2012–14. 


The top five nations in rank order are Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands. The greatest fall is that of Indonesia: by nine places to 41st owing to a reduction in papers jointly written with international collaboration (C2). But, more broadly, joint international publications continue to increase in importance: the only other countries to show a (small) decline from values in last year’s rankings are Russia and South Africa. For our 50 countries, the median percentage for joint international publications has risen to 43.7 per cent from 41.5 per cent last year: the top five countries are Saudi Arabia, (75 per cent), Hong Kong (66 per cent), Switzerland (64 per cent), Belgium (60 per cent), and Singapore (59 per cent), an unchanged ranking from last year. The five most highly ranked countries for the percentage of articles written with industry (C6) are, in rank order, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands and Japan. The share in Denmark is 8.3 per cent but it is above 7 per cent in all the top five ranked countries; the median share for all 50 countries is 3.8 per cent. The share of joint industry publications in Belgium has fallen by 1 percentage point compared with last year’s rankings whereas the share in France has increased by nearly 1 percentage point. 

The top five countries for knowledge transfer in the IMD survey of business executives (C5) are, in rank order, Switzerland, the United States, Israel, the Netherlands and Denmark. Canada has fallen from equal third last year to 14th in this year’s rankings, whereas Sweden has risen from 17th to sixth. Indonesia has fallen seventeen places to 40th ; Korea from 19th to 27th.

Singapore, New Zealand, 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, Canada, the United Kingdom and Taiwan-China. Switzerland and Sweden are ranked the highest for web transparency (C3).