US universities falter in latest global rankings

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) made the number one spot.

By U2B Staff 

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Universities in the United States have had their worst showing in history on the 2020 QS World University Rankings, released Wednesday.

Despite dominating the top 10 with five institutions making the cut, only 16 percent of America’s colleges improved their rank this year, making it the country’s worst performance on record.

Those that made it into the top are Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the number one spot, Stanford University in second, and Harvard University in third. California Institute of Technology (CalTech) came fifth, and the University of Chicago scraped in at number 10.

QS ranked 1000 universities from 82 different locations, surveyed 94,000 academics and 44,000 hiring managers and analysed 11.8 million research papers and 100 million citations. The universities are measured on academic standing, graduate employability, student:staff ratio, research impact, and internationalisation.


While the US had a bad year, the UK didn’t come away unscathed, registering its third-worst performance ever. The world-renowned University of Cambridge hit its lowest position ever in seventh place. Oxford University, however, reversed these fortunes and rose one position into fourth, leapfrogging CalTech.

International student ratios at UK and US universities continue to fall, sparking concerns over a drop in funds and a lack of diversity and acceptance in the current political climate.

The big names though continue to draw applications and remain at the top of many industries lists for fruitful collaboration.

Since its founding, MIT has encouraged researchers to work collaboratively across departments, fields, and institutional boundaries to solve problems. This has led to thousands of successful partnerships with industry and other leading research institutions.


More than 700 companies are working with faculty and students both in Institute-wide programs such as the Industrial Liaison Programme (part of MIT Corporate Relations and the main conduit between corporations and MIT), MIT Energy Initiative, and many other collaborations.

Chinese universities have steadily grown their presence in the world’s top institutions. It now has 19 of the world’s top 200 research universities, rising from 12 in 2016.

Australia also had great results with 24 of its 35 universities rising in the rankings this year.

In the rest of Asia, Singapore came out as the clear winner with the National University of Singapore and its compatriot Nanyang Technological University tying for 11th best universities in the world ahead of big names like Columbia and Yale, both of whom dropped in from last years results.