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Go Back to the List April 01, 2023
US leads in 32 subjects and UK in 14 in new QS rankings

The United States boasts the highest number of top-10 programmes (256) in the latest edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject, followed by the United Kingdom with 145 and Switzerland with 32.

US universities lead in 32 subjects, with Harvard University ranking first in 14 and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 11.

British universities take the top spot in 14 subjects, with the University of Oxford leading in four, while the University of Cambridge, UCL and the Royal College of Art lead in two each.

Canada’s University of Toronto boasts the most top-50 subjects in the world, with 48.

The rankings, released by global higher education analyst QS Quacquarelli Symonds last week, rank the top universities in 54 academic disciplines, including three new additions: data science, marketing and history of art.

They are based on an independent comparative analysis of over 15,700 individual university programmestaken by students at1,594 universities in93 countries and territories.

Described by QS as the “largest student-oriented subject rankings”, it consists of five indicators: academic and employer reputation based on a global survey of 151,000 academics and 99,000 employers, research citations per paper, H-index and international research network.

Drew MacFarlane, QS rankings manager, writing in QS magazine, said this year 769 institutions find themselves with entries in subject and faculty areas they have not previously achieved a ranking in.

“The United States, UK and China (mainland) are the top three countries [by] volume of new programme entries. China (mainland) is also the top location for the number of new institutions ranked for the first time in our subject ranking, with nine new institutions, followed by India (seven), the UK (six) and Ukraine (six).

The US and the UK continue to appear in the majority of the subject top 10s.

In continental Europe, ETH Zurich is the top university, achieving number-one spots in three subjects. Switzerland ranks first in four academic disciplines, while the Netherlands leads two and Italy one.

Australia ranks fourth in the world for the most ranked subjects and is among the top three most impactful research locations according to H-index.

China (mainland) boasts the fifth-highest number of top-50 programmes. India is the second-most improved country in Asia, with its overall performance rising by 17%. Japan’s systemic decline continues, with 43% of its universities falling down the table while 8% improve.

Universidad de Chile achieves Latin America’s highest rank, for ‘mineral and mining engineering’ (8th). Brazil is the most represented country in Latin America with 291 programmes and 55 among the top 100, while Mexico has the region’s most top-20 subjects (3).

South Africa enjoys Africa’s two highest ranks: for ‘mineral and mining engineering’ and ‘development studies’ (both 12th).

Hospitality dominated by Switzerland

MacFarlane said there were some interesting trends. For instance, in hospitality seven out of the top 10 institutions are in Switzerland, which has become a globally renowned destination for those wishing to make their mark in the hospitality sector.

The top 10 for dentistry shows the “relevance and necessity of specialised institutions”, he added, with the Academic Centre for Dentistry (Amsterdam), Tokyo Medical and Dental University and Karolinska Institute (Sweden) among them.

Less surprising is that in the new ‘data science’ ranking, seven out of the top 10 are from the US, which is the world’s top spender on research and development as a percentage of their GDP, he said.

UK strong in the humanities

In the humanities, the UK “continues to leverage its strong history in this area along with its continued championing of the arts”, taking number one spots in: art and design (Royal College of Art), history of art (Royal College of Art), architecture (the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL), archaeology (University of Cambridge) and performing arts (Royal College of Music).

Ben Sowter, QS senior vice president, said the extended rankings provides a “deeper understanding” of how global higher education excellence is achieved.

“Sustained targeted investment and international collaboration are key pillars upon which progress can be made. In addition, improving relationships with industry correlates with better employment, research and innovation outcomes,” he said.

The rankings were consulted over 120 million times in 2022 on and referenced 117,000 times by media globally, according to QS.

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Written by A UWN reporter ,
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