China’s best university is almost as good as Florida State

Fudan doesn’t even have a football team.
Fudan doesn’t even have a football team.
Image: AP Photo/Don Juan Moore
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This item has been corrected.

The United States and United Kingdom are home to virtually all of the world’s top universities, and schools in Asia and continental Europe are barely worth a passing glance—at least in the eyes of an influential China ranking.

Harvard once again claimed the top spot in Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s list of the world’s top institutions of higher learning, followed by Stanford, the University of California-Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Caltech, Princeton, Columbia, University of Chicago and Oxford. No Asian universities and only one from continental Europe—the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich—cracked the top 20.

The University of Tokyo and two other Japanese universities were the only Asian schools in the top 100. Only three institutions from mainland China rank in the top 200, as Shanghai’s Fudan University moved ahead of Peking University—in the absolute rankings, Fudan was sandwiched between the US universities Florida State and George Mason. Jiao Tong ranked itself third in mainland China, and #167 overall.

As Quartz has reported, by the end of this decade, three out of every 10 college students in the world will come from China. But the country hasn’t been able to build enough world-class educational facilities to meet domestic demand, prompting the country’s wealthy elite to send their progeny abroad for higher education.

The Jiao Tong rankings are calculated in part by measuring the number of Nobel Prize and Fields Medal winners, the number of “highly cited” researchers, and the number of articles by faculty published in the magazines Nature and Science. Those measures tend to favor schools that are strong in math, science, and economics, and to work against schools that emphasize the humanities. The methodology also tends to make the rankings quite static: The top 10 barely shifted this time around, other than Berkeley and MIT changing places.

Here’s the top 50 (and the full list):

1. Harvard University
2. Stanford University
3. University of California, Berkeley
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
5. University of Cambridge
6. California Institute of Technology
7. Princeton University
8. Columbia University
9. University of Chicago
10. University of Oxford
11. Yale University
12. University of California, Los Angeles
13. Cornell University
14. University of California, San Diego
15. University of Pennsylvania
16. University of Washington
17. The Johns Hopkins University
18. University of California, San Francisco
19. University of Wisconsin – Madison
20. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
21. The University of Tokyo
22. University College London
23. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
24. The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
25. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
26. Kyoto University
27. New York University
28. University of Toronto
29. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
30. Northwestern University
31. Duke University
32. Washington University in St. Louis
33. University of Colorado at Boulder
34. Rockefeller University
35. University of California, Santa Barbara
36. The University of Texas at Austin
37. Pierre and Marie Curie University – Paris 6
38. University of Maryland, College Park
39. University of Paris Sud (Paris 11)
40. University of British Columbia
41. The University of Manchester
42. University of Copenhagen
43. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
44. Karolinska Institute
45. University of California, Irvine
46. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
47. University of California, Davis
47. University of Southern California
49. Vanderbilt University
50. Technical University Munich

Correction (August 15, 2013): There are three Asian universities ranked in the top 100 of Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s list. An earlier version of this article had reported that only one Asian school made the top 100.