Research for the U21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems was carried out by Universitas 21, an international network of 23 leading research-intensive universities in fifteen countries. Collectively its members enroll over 830,000 students, employ over 145,000 staff and have approaching 2.5 million alumni.
The U21 Ranking differs from other rankings such as The Times, OS and the Shanghai Rankings which measure individual universities, and instead looks at countries and their higher education systems as a whole. This is an important factor as students often consider the country they wish to study in first, before looking at specific institutions, when they are deciding where to study abroad.
A nation’s economic development crucially depends on the presence of an educated and skilled workforce and on technological innovation and development. According to Universitats 21, the higher education sector contributes to both these needs: it educates and trains, undertaking both pure and applied research, as well as fostering the international links which are vital to a country’s development in an increasingly globalised economy.
The U21 Ranking evaluates national higher education systems over four broad areas
Measure 4: Output
For more information on how the 4 areas were measured and the results the study produced see: http://www.universitas21.com/collaboration/?parentID=48)
In the area of ‘Environment’ the Dutch education system was ranked as overall number 1 in the survey. The ‘Environment’ variable relates to equality and diversity, and elements such as gender balance in students and academic staff and the policy and regulatory environment of higher education in the country are taken into account. The Netherlands has the best regulatory environment and its higher education policy is very transparent. According to research, the most successful higher education systems are found in those countries which give their universities the freedom to make their own policies within in a framework set by the government and overall the best scoring countries have higher education institutions which are very independent.
The top ten countries in the survey (in rank order) are: the United States, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. You can find the key findings from the 2012 U21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems at http://www.universitas21.com/collaboration/details/49/executive-summary-and-full-report.
- Full Report U21 Rankings of NHES 2012 (universitas21.com)
- Universitas21 (universitas21.com)
- National › World’s top countries for higher education ranked (japantoday.com)