U21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems 2018

Rankings Report 2018 Front Cover

The first ranking report was published in May 2012 and this is the seventh year of reporting. The 2018 report includes the same 50 countries as the 2017 report, which have again been ranked separately in four areas (Resources, Environment, Connectivity and Output) and overall.

In 2018, the Ranking has been extended in two ways. Firstly, through examining the concentration of research the median level of publications attributable to the top 10 per cent of institutions in each country is 43 per cent. Secondly, by investigating the importance of research training as measured by the number of PhD graduates, the income premium earned by those with a graduate degree, and the throughput of PhDs relative to the exiting stock of researchers in higher education.

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Professor Ross Williams explains the methodology and results of the U21 Ranking Report 2018:


2018 Overall Results Summary

The main ranking compares a country’s performance against the best in the world on each measure. An overall ranking is derived using a weight of 40 per cent for Output and 20 per cent for each of the other three modules (Resources, Environment and Connectivity).  The top five countries, in rank order, are the United States, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark. The only change from the 2017 ranking is the inversion of positions for Denmark and Sweden. 

2018 Adjusted Overall Results Summary

A subsidiary ranking compares how nations perform relative to countries at similar levels of GDP per capita.  The top ranked countries are now Finland and the United Kingdom where the scores imply on overall performance of 20 per cent above the average level of achievement for countries at their income levels.   Next in rank order are Serbia, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland and South Africa. 

Ranking for 24 Measures - raw data downloads

Original Data

GDP Adjusted Data