Eighty-four universities in 15 Arab countries are ranked in the 2024 edition of the QS World University Rankings, four more than last year.
The new classification, published today by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, a British higher-education analytics company, compares 1,499 institutions in countries and territories around the globe.
For the twelfth consecutive year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) maintains its reign at the top. The University of Cambridge holds fast to second place, while the University of Oxford moves up from fourth to third place.
In the Arab world, Saudi Arabia is the most represented nation with 16 entries, followed by Egypt with 15 entries and the United Arab Emirates with 11. Saudi institutions continue to dominate the list, with King Abdulaziz University (KAU) remaining the highest-ranked Arab institution, despite a slight slip from 106th to 143rd place.
Thirty-four Arab institutions maintained the same rank as last year, while 26 placed higher and 20 placed lower. Fourteen were ranked among the world’s top 500, including a new entry, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, which debuted in 310th place.
Jessica Turner, chief executive of QS Quacquarelli Symonds, said this year’s rankings show that each Arab country has its unique strengths and opportunities for growth.
New Performance Indicators
The 20th edition of the classification incorporates several new performance indicators among the factors QS considers. These include measures of graduates’ employability and universities’ commitment to sustainability, as well as a new index of international research networking, which seeks to measure international research collaboration and knowledge transfer.
With the addition of those three metrics, QS assessed universities across nine categories in its methodology for the 2024 rankings.
“Despite a slight decline this year, the story remains mostly the same for Saudi Arabia, with incredible progress seen in its international reputation. However, challenges in sustainability and generating high-impact research remain.”Ben Sowter, senior vice president of QS Quacquarelli Symonds
Six metrics have been used in previous rankings, but were given new weights. They deal with academic and employer reputation scores, faculty-student ratios, research citation numbers, and the proportions of international faculty members and international students. Academic reputation, based on a survey of academics worldwide, is the highest-weighted factor, at 30 percent.
14 Arab Universities in the Top 500
A total of 14 universities in Arab countries ranked in the top 500 institutions, two more than last year.
Two other Arab universities joined Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University in the top 200. They were Qatar University (173) and Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (180).
Four more universities ranked in the top 300: King Saud University (203), the American University of Beirut (226), and two Emirati institutions: Khalifa University of Science and Technology (230), and the United Arab Emirates University (290).
Seven more universities followed in the top 500 list. They were Qatar’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University (310), the American University of Sharjah (364), Cairo University (371, up from a band ranked 551-560 last year), the American University in Cairo (415), Sultan Qaboos University (454), the University of Sharjah (465), and the University of Jordan (498), marking Jordan’s first time in the top 500 list.
Saudi Arabia’s Growing Global Reputation
Saudi Arabian universities scored major gains in QS’s reputational indicators. The kingdom’s top-ranked institution, King Abdulaziz University (KAU), is also the national leader for academic reputation, placing 143rd, and employment reputation, placing 127th..
Saudi institutions saw an overall decline in their placings, however, mainly because of shortcomings in their scores for sustainability and research impact.
Still, Saudi Arabia remains the region’s premier higher education sector, with three of Western Asia’s five best universities belonging to the nation.
Ben Sowter, senior vice president of QS, said: “Despite a slight decline this year, the story remains mostly the same for Saudi Arabia, with incredible progress seen in its international reputation. However, challenges in sustainability and generating high-impact research remain. As the country looks to diversify its economy away from oil and upskill its workforce for the future, enhancing cross-border collaboration and addressing sustainability concerns will be essential for its continued advancement.”
“With its attractive academic environment and abundance of teaching resources, the U.A.E. continues to be a sought-after destination for foreign talent. As the nation navigates the transition away from an oil-based economy, investing in collaborative, relevant research, upskilling its population, and seriously developing an agenda for sustainable development remain crucial strategies.”Ben Sowter, senior vice president of QS Quacquarelli Symonds
The second-highest placed Saudi institution, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM), was rated highest in the kingdom for research strength. It has produced 10,800 scholarly papers between 2018 and 2022, primarily in petroleum engineering, generating some 175,000 citations.
Saudi Arabia also attracts an exceptional number of international faculty, with nine of its universities ranking in the world’s top 100 in this metric, including five in the top 50, second only to the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University was the highest-ranking Saudi institution for international faculty ratio, placing 11th globally.
Saudi universities showed less success in the international student ratio, despite that fact that its Islamic University of Madinah placed ninth in this metric.
Besides the three Saudi universities in the top 500, five institutions made it to the top 750 list: Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (590), Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (595), Umm Al-Qura University (in a group ranked 601-610), Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (661-670), and Alfaisal University (731-740).
The other Saudi institutions in the top 1,000 were: King Khalid University (761-770), Jouf University (801-850), King Faisal University (851-900), Northern Borders University and Qassim University, both ranked 901-950, and the Islamic University of Madinah (951-1,000).
They were followed by Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University and Taibah University, both ranked 1,001-1,200.
U.A.E.: Top International Ecosystem
As in last year’s rankings, the United Arab Emirates had 11 universities ranked this year. Four Emirati universities made it to the top 500, including Khalifa University of Science and Technology, ranking 230th, down from the 181st place. The University of Sharjah has made a significant leap, from the 601-650 band to 465th place.
In a news release, QS announced that the Emirates showed the world’s most international higher-education ecosystem, as well as research strength in engineering. Moreover, 81 percent of the Emirates’ institutions rose in the rankings due to their skyrocketing global reputation.
The U.A.E. boasts an intensely international faculty base, with the highest ratio in the world among countries with 10 or more ranked institutions. All 11 of the Emirates’ ranked universities are among the top 50 for this indicator, while nine are among the world’s top 10. Al Ain University is home to the world’s most international faculty body.
The U.A.E. also leads the world in the international students, with four universities among the world top 10 for this indicator. However, the Emirati institutions struggle in metrics related to research and sustainability.
“The impressive ascent of the University of Jordan demonstrates their commitment to higher education excellence. Advancements in QS’s internationalization metrics suggest it is increasingly attracting a diverse talent pool and fostering a stronger global reputation.”Ben Sowter, senior vice president of QS Quacquarelli Symonds
“With its attractive academic environment, and abundance of teaching resources, the U.A.E. continues to be a sought-after destination for foreign talent,” Sowter said. “As the nation navigates the transition away from an oil-based economy, investing in collaborative, relevant research, upskilling its population, and seriously developing an agenda for sustainable development remain crucial strategies.”
In addition to four institutions in the top 500, seven additional Emirati universities were among the top 1,000. They were: Ajman University and the Canadian University Dubai, both ranked 551; Abu Dhabi University (580); American University in Dubai (601-610); Al Ain University (611-620); Zayed University (701-710); and the University of Dubai (801-1,000).
Egypt: Most Ranked Universities in Africa
The latest ranking included 14 public and private universities in Egypt, the highest number of any African nation.
Egypt also maintained the momentum in employability outcomes and international reputation metrics, which should be paired with concerted efforts to produce high-impact research.
Cairo University and the American University in Cairo were the sixth- and seventh-highest ranked institutions in Africa, after five institutions in South Africa. Egypt was the only Arabic-speaking African nation to make it to the top 500 list.
A third Egyptian institution, Ain Shams University, was also in the continent’s top 10, placing ninth in Africa and in the 721-730 tier overall, a climb from its position last year (801-1,000).
Alexandria University was also in this year’s top 1,000, ranking 901-950.
Four Egyptian institutions ranked in the 1001-1200 band: Assiut University, Future University in Egypt, Mansoura University, and the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (the latter ranking for the first time).
Seven institutions ranked in the 1,201-1,400 group: Al-Azhar University, the British University in Egypt, the German University in Cairo, Helwan University, Suez Canal University, Tanta University, and Zagazig University.
Elsewhere in Arab-speaking Africa, Sudan had two ranked universities: the University of Khartoum (1,201-1,400) and Sudan University of Science and Technology (1401+).
Tunisia had four ranked institutions, including the Université de Tunis El Manar in a band ranked 951-1,000. Université de Sfax, making its first appearance in the rankings, and Université de Sousse were both in the 1,001-1,200 tier, and Université de Tunis was in the 1,201-1,400 group.
Morocco had one ranked institution, Université Mohammed V de Rabat (1,201-1400, up from 1,401+).
More Results in the Gulf States
In other Gulf states, Qatar has made a notable surge with Qatar University jumping from 208th to 173rd and Hamad Bin Khalifa University at 310th. This underscores the significant progress the country has made in prioritising education and research.
As in 2023, Oman had only one institution in this year’s ranking, Sultan Qaboos University, in 454th place, down from from 384th last year.
Bahrain had three ranked institutions: the Applied Science University–Bahrain, ranked 582; Ahlia University (751-760); and the University of Bahrain (951-1,000), all of them showing drops from last year.
Three universities in Kuwait improved their positions this year, namely the American University of the Middle East (671-680), and Gulf University for Science and Technology and Kuwait University, both ranked 851-900.
The Levant: Jordan Enters the Top 500
In Lebanon, despite the country’s current stifling economic crisis, the American University of Beirut (AUB) continues to hold its place in the top echelons, improving from 252nd to 226th position. The Lebanese University, the country’s only public institution, jumped from 601-650 to 577. While they dropped in ranking, the top 700 list also includes three institutions: Saint Joseph University of Beirut (631-640), and Holy Spirit University of Kaslik and the Lebanese American University, both ranked 661-670.
Other institutions in Lebanon ranked this year were the Beirut Arab University (711-720), University of Balamand (801-850), and Notre Dame University-Louaize (901-950).
Nine Jordanian universities made it into this year’s ranking. The University of Jordan made its mark to the top 500, rising from the 591-600 band to the 498th position, primarily due to growing recognition in the reputational surveys of international employers and academics alike.
Jordan also enjoys high levels of international students and staff. Three universities are among the world top 400 for international students, with Mutah University achieving the country’s highest score in this category. In international faculty, two universities are among the top 400, led by the German Jordanian University. Moreover, two universities were among the world’s top 300 in employability metric: the University of Jordan and Yarmouk University.
Ben Sowter said: “The impressive ascent of the University of Jordan demonstrates their commitment to higher education excellence. Advancements in QS’s internationalization metrics suggest it is increasingly attracting a diverse talent pool and fostering a stronger global reputation.”
Three other Jordanian institutions made it into the top 1,000: Jordan University of Science & Technology (731-740), Al-Ahliyya Amman University (its debut, ranking 801-850), and Princess Sumaya University for Technology (901-950).
Other Jordanian institutions ranked this year were the German Jordanian University, Yarmouk University, and Mutah University (all ranked 1,001-1,200), followed by the Hashemite University (1,201-1,400) and Al-Balqa Applied University (1,401+).
Elsewhere in the Levant, five Iraqi universities were ranked, namely the University of Baghdad (951-1,000), Mustansiriyah University (1,001-1,200), and the University of Babylon, the University of Basrah, and the University of Kufa (1,201-1,400).
As in last year’s rankings, three universities in Palestine made the list: Al-Quds University and An-Najah National University, both ranked 1,001-1,200, and Birzeit University (1,201-1,400).
Syria had only one university on the list: Damascus University, climbing from 1,401+ to the 1,200-1,400 band.
Seven Arab countries were not represented on QS’s list this year: Algeria, Comoros, Djibouti, Libya, Mauritania, Somalia, and Yemen.
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