Countries including Canada, Germany and South Korea have set goals to attract tens of thousands more international students to their college campuses over the next several years. These nations are searching globally for top talent in part to bolster their workforces, especially as populations in places such as Germany begin to age.
More than 4 million students left their home countries to study abroad in 2012, according to the latest data available from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. To help prospective international students compare institutions around the world, U.S. News has launched a second, expanded edition of the Best Global Universities rankings, which evaluate schools based on academic research performance and reputation.
The overall 2016 Best Global Universities rankings encompass the top 750 universities located around the globe, an increase from the 500 that were included in last year’s inaugural rankings. But the school on top remains the same: Harvard University, located in Massachusetts in the northeastern U.S.
Harvard is No. 1 worldwide in a few other ways as well: The school has both the largest endowment – $36.4 billion in 2014, according to U.S. News data – and the largest academic library of any university in the world.
Counting Harvard, eight of the top 10 Best Global Universities are found in the U.S. Of those eight U.S. schools, two are public institutions: the No. 3-ranked University of California—Berkeley and the No. 8-ranked University of California—Los Angeles. The top 10 is rounded out by two schools in the United Kingdom: the University of Oxford, ranked No. 5, and the University of Cambridge, ranked No. 6.
While there was little movement in the top 10 between this year and last, one U.S. school ranked among the top 20 jumped a notable five places. The University of Pennsylvania moved up from the No. 19 spot to a tie with Yale University in the U.S. for No. 14. Meanwhile, Imperial College London in the U.K. fell from No. 12 to No. 18.
Overall, 57 countries have institutions featured in the rankings, up from 49 nations last year. With 181 institutions represented, the U.S. has by far the most universities in the top 750. China has the next-highest number of schools, with 57, followed closely by the United Kingdom, with 55 universities making the cut.
The Best Global Universities rankings, which incorporate data from Thomson Reuters InCitesTMresearch analytics solutions, do not focus on a university’s separate undergraduate or graduate programs. Instead, the rankings illustrate an institution’s overall strength in terms of research activity and reputation, differentiating them from the U.S. News Best Colleges and Best Graduate Schools rankings of U.S. programs.
In addition to factors such as global research reputation and international collaboration, the U.S. News methodology expanded this year to include two separate ranking indicators for research published in books and communicated at academic conferences.
Beyond the overall rankings, students can explore how universities stack up against others in the same region or within the same country, as well as in various academic subjects.
New to the 2016 rankings is a regional ranking of universities in Africa. The regional rankings are based entirely on how schools fared in the overall rankings of the top 750 universities worldwide; other regional rankings cover Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Europe and Latin America.
The No. 1 university in Africa is the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Of the top universities in this region, six are in South Africa, three are in Egypt and one is in Uganda.
The schools that top the other 2016 regional rankings are the reigning No. 1s from 2015: Japan’s University of Tokyo in Asia; Australia’s University of Melbourne in Australia/New Zealand; the U.K.’s Oxford in Europe; and Brazil’s Universidade de São Paulo in Latin America.