The Strongest Higher Education Systems by Country – Overview

May 2016 marks the launch of the first ever QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings, which ranks entire national higher education systems, rather than individual institutions.

The ranking is created using data from the QS World University Rankings® and highlights the top 50 countries worldwide for the strength of their higher education systems.

Each country is marked by four different criteria, which are:

  • System strength – How strong the higher education system is in comparison to the rest of the world.
  • Access – The number of places available at the internationally ranked universities in each country.
  • Flagship institution – The rankings take into account the standing of each country’s leading institution.
  • Economic context – The relative strength of the system in respect to the nation’s GDP per capita.

This index is the first time QS has published a ranking designed to assess the system of higher education in its entirety.

This is excellent news for university marketers, especially those from lesser-known institutions and smaller countries looking to recruit students internationally. A strong national education system is an excellent way of showing off your institution and the culture of your country to prospective students.

Did your country make the list? Check out the results for the overall university rankings below:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Germany
  4. Australia
  5. Canada
  6. France
  7. Netherlands
  8. China
  9. South Korea
  10. Japan

With a full sweep across all the criteria, the US is the clear number one in this first edition of the QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings.

Countries which topped the other criteria:

In the Americas, the US and Canada are joined a little further down the list by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Colombia. Australia (4th) is joined by neighboring nation New Zealand (16th). Asia’s leading nations are China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Finally, Europe accounts for almost half of the top-50 places, led by the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain.


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