Sweden has been ranked in the top 5 since 2012, the year that Universitas 21 started compiling the rankings.

Strong in publications and number of researchers per capita

Universitas 21 ranks countries according to 4 broad categories: resources, environment, connectivity and output. The Swedish government commitment to the university system puts Sweden fifth worldwide, and spending on basic research is even stronger. The “environment” metric is the highest for countries with high institutional autonomy and limited government intervention and regulations. It is unsurprising that this is by far Sweden’s lowest category with a ranking in the middle of the pack of 50 countries.

“Connectivity” is still rated quite high, even after falling a few places from the preceding years. Sweden ranks second for joint publications with industry and seventh for joint publications with international researchers. “Output” is where Sweden really shines, both for students and for researchers. Sweden has more publications per head and a better overall quality than all but one other country in the rankings.

When the rankings are adjusted for GDP per capita, Sweden increases its ranking to fourth overall.

Some surprises in the Universitas 21 2016 rankings

The top performing higher education systems in the world—United States, Switzerland, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Sweden—have remained relatively constant since 2012, with the exception of the UK which rose 4 points to join the top 5. The countries with the biggest improvement are China and South Africa.

When the scale is adjusted to account for economic development, an entirely new picture emerges. UK, Serbia, Denmark, Sweden and China become the top 5 countries and the US (which is near the top of every non-weighted metric) drops to 16, just below India. The rise of China as an academic powerhouse is impressive, but increasing incomes and per capita GDP are likely to cause their rate of improvement to level out.

The Universitas 21 ranking system is intended as a tool for governments and policy makers to evaluate how different aspects of their national systems are functioning and what can be done to improve. It is an Australian-based, international network of research universities whose goal is to foster global citizenship and innovation in research and education.

More information

More information: www.universitas21.com