The first Ranking of National Higher Education Systems was published in May 2012 by Universitas 21. The Rankings met a longstanding need to shift discussion from the existing rankings of the world’s best universities to the standing of the whole higher education system in each country.
Universitas 21 developed the ranking as a benchmark for governments, education institutions and individuals. It aims to highlight the importance of creating a strong environment for higher education institutions to contribute to economic and cultural development, provide a high-quality experience for students and help institutions compete for overseas applicants.
Research authors at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, looked at data from 48 countries and territories across 20 different measures. The range of measures is grouped under four headings: resources (investment by government and private sector), output (research and its impact, as well as the production of an educated workforce which meets labour market needs), connectivity (international networks and collaboration which protects a system against insularity) and environment (government policy and regulation, diversity and participation opportunities). Population size is accounted for in the calculations.
Overall, in the 2012 Universitas 21 Ranking of Higher Education Systems, the top five were found to be the United States, Sweden, Canada, Finland and Denmark. Further details can be found in the full report, along with the breakdown of the data which formed the publication. All files can be downloaded below.