Results from the league table say whilst the US system is still top in terms of overall performance, Finland is the true winner when the rankings are adjusted to measure each country relative to their national income levels.
In fact, when adjusted to take into account GDP per capita, Finland takes the lead ahead of the US and UK, traditional favourites in the world of higher education, Eyewitness News reported.
The U21 rankings compare the strengths and weaknesses of individual institutions but, unsatisfied with the measurement of the best higher education system, the rankings were reworked to consider the countries’ economic standing.
The original version of the rankings unsurprisingly features countries with high-income – and as a result expenditure – countries, including the US, Switzerland and the UK.
— TimesHigherEducation (@timeshighered) May 16, 2018
However, cash flow in a country’s higher education system plays a huge role in the quality of its universities.
U12 responded by creating a whole new “amended” ranking in which it considered the GDP per capita.
The new rankings uncovered that many countries’ higher education systems were thriving compared to nations of similar GDP levels per capita.
“Quite simply, research excellence can be bought – almost 90 percent of country differences in research are explained by research expenditure,” Melbourne Institute Professor Ross Williams explained to Eyewitness News.
Landing itself third place in the original rankings which did not consider expenditure, the UK performed well in both cases, coming in second after Finland, when national income levels were considered.
Both Finland and the UK were found to have scored 20 percent above the average level of achievement for countries at their income levels.
Finland’s #education system has once again been positioned amongst the best in the world! In the recent Universitas 21 ranking, #Finland climbed from ninth to sixth place out of a total of 50 countries. @u21news Full report: https://t.co/OqaEjSy12P https://t.co/AEfhgQdGBS
— EduCluster Finland (@EduClusterFin) May 16, 2018
The US, on the contrary, slips from first place all the way down to 15th.
Serbia, which was ranked at 42 out of 50 in the original rankings, rose to third place.
The remaining slots in the top 10 after Finland, the UK and Serbia are taken by Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland, South Africa, Israel and New Zealand.
Aus unis are already some of the most efficient in the world, @u21news rankings confirm. Aust unis are ranked 3rd in the world for what they produce but 41st for government spending on tertiary education. https://t.co/bkZ2F9jkw6 #highered
— Universities Aust. (@uniaus) May 14, 2018
The U21 rankings were birthed by a group of global universities as an alternative to more conventional rankings which tend to focus on the institutions themselves and not the countries’ economic performances.
The authors measured 24 different indicators to reach their conclusion on the 50 countries the rankings include.
The measures include; expenditure on higher education, government policy, industry links, the diversity of the country’s institutions, enrolment rates, and research performance.
These indicators of performance are then divided up into four categories; resources, policy environment, connectivity, and output.