UK and Saudi Arabia universities improve while those in US drop in new world rankings

Saudi Arabia strengthens its position in many subject rankings, including computer science, engineering and physical sciences

The University of Oxford has retained the top spot for the best university for clinical and health studies. Getty
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Universities in the UK and Saudi Arabia have galvanised their positions while several top US universities dropped down the table in new rankings issued on Tuesday.

Times Higher Education released the results of the 'World University Rankings 2023 by Subject'.

The UK’s King’s College London joined the list of the top 10 in clinical and health studies, while Johns Hopkins University in the US dropped out of the top 10 to 11th position, down from joint ninth last year.

The US and the UK dominated the top 300 for all subject rankings, while China was the third-most represented country in the business and economics top 300. Tsinghua University came fifth across the world in clinical and health studies.

Saudi Arabia strengthened its position in many subject rankings, including computer science, engineering and physical sciences.

In computer science, Saudi Arabia now has five universities in the top 300, up from two last year.

For business and economics, King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia climbed into the top 100 in joint 63rd place, up from group band 126-150. The kingdom has increased its representation in the world's top 300 universities for engineering with seven universities featuring, up from four in the previous ranking.

For physical sciences, King Abdulaziz University joined the top 50 in 47th place, up from joint 90th last year.

US dominance declining

Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at Times Higher Education, said: “The World University Rankings by Subject provide further evidence of a clear trend we saw in the overall World Rankings earlier this month: the traditional dominance of the US in world higher education and research is waning.

"It has been widely pointed out that federal spending on research and development in the US, as a proportion of total spending, is at a seven-decade low and we have witnessed worrying defunding of America’s great state universities around the nation.

"It looks like this is all starting to take its toll on the US’s global competitiveness in research and innovation.

“Meanwhile, East Asian nations, led by China, and countries in the Middle East, led by Saudi Arabia, continue to strengthen in key areas.

"A standout winner emerging from our new data release is Saudi Arabia — its improvements in key strategic subject areas, including computer science, engineering and physical sciences is particularly noteworthy, as a national commitment to invest in research and education as part of the national strategic Vision 2030 starts to really pay off."

The new rankings revealed that the US has nine fewer universities in the top 300 in engineering, 76 down from 85 last year.

In arts and humanities, US representation in the top 300 decreased with 61 universities ranked, down from 67, while in business and economics, Duke University in the US dropped out of the top 10 to 17th.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology retained its title as number one in business and economics this year, while the University of Oxford remained number one in computer science.

For psychology, the UK’s King’s College London climbed into the top 10 in 8th position, up from 12th last year.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023 by subject uses data from the overall Times Higher Education World University Rankings published this month, which showed the UK’s University of Oxford retaining its top spot for the seventh consecutive year.

In the current league table, 1,799 universities from 104 countries and regions have been included.

The rankings provide an overview of a university’s quality, drawing on an analysis of 15.5 million research publications and 121 million citations to those publications, plus more than 40,000 responses to an annual academic reputation survey and hundreds of thousands of additional data points covering a university’s teaching environment, international outlook and industry links.

Updated: October 26, 2022, 4:48 AM