The Countries With the Best Colleges

A company called “QS Quacquarelli Symonds” has taken “the first attempt worldwide to compare entire national higher education systems, rather than individual institutions.” In other words, it’s ranking countries by how good their colleges are.

In order, the best are:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Australia
  4. Germany
  5. Canada
  6. Japan
  7. France
  8. Netherlands
  9. South Korea
  10. Sweden
  11. Switzerland
  12. Italy
  13. Belgium
  14. New Zealand
  15. China

Also ranked: individual colleges and universities, with Harvard and Yale on top, and Johns Hopkins, Duke, Michigan, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, and small-but-very-rigorous Caltech also ranked high, among others. Lesser-known schools in the top 100: University of California-Davis, and Case Western Reserve, in Ohio.

Moving up in the rankings: Wash-U in St. Louis; University of California-Santa Barbara; University of Virginia; and Stony Brook, among others.

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Back to the country rankings — QS says its “innovative methodology avoids the pitfalls of ranking nations simply according to the number of universities those nations have in the top 200.”

Instead, its comparison uses the number of universities in the top 500; how good a country’s system is at getting students into internationally reputable universities (calculated by taking each country’s number of full-time equivalent students at the top 500 universities, factored against its population); a score based on the position of the top institution in each country; and extra points for having high-performing schools compared with the country’s GDP.


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