Swiss maintain second spot in higher ed rankings

A colourful class at the University of Zurich. Keystone

Switzerland’s higher education system has once again been ranked second worldwide in the 2018 Universitas 21 report, holding its own against big players such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

This content was published on May 11, 2018 - 07:19

The Alpine nation once again came in between the US (1) and the UK (3) in the classification of 50 countries compiled by the Universitas 21External link group of research universities, which was released on May 11.

It has held this position since 2015. Its lowest position since Universitas started its rankings in 2012 was in 2014, when the country slipped to 6th.

Neighbours Germany, France and Italy were ranked 15th, 16th and 28th respectively. Austria came in 11th.

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‘Switzerland ranks second overall.  A particular strength of the higher education sector is its connectivity with business and international researchers. On a per head basis Switzerland ranks first for PhD completions, over half of whom are non-nationals,” Ross Williams, Project Leader of Universitas 21 National Ranking and professor at the University of Melbourne, told by email.

Elsewhere, the only change on the 2017 rankings was the inversion of Denmark and Sweden’s positions, U21 said in a statement.

U21 differs from other rankings like the Times Higher Education (THE) and ShanghaiExternal link in that it assesses national higher education systems as a whole rather than individual universities, where Swiss institutions are often lower down the top ten. In the 2017 THE list, for example, the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) gained 10th place.External link

Switzerland’s high ranking for U21 came after it was given position 1 for both resources and connectivity, 4 for output and 11 for environment. An overall ranking is derived using a weight of 40% for output and 20% for each of the other three modules.

Swiss universities are well known for their international outlook, innovation and high percentage of foreign students, particularly at post-grad level.

+ Read more on why Swiss universities are loved by foreign students

Swiss think-tank nevertheless recently recommended that Swiss universities should become more efficient to continue to compete internationally.

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