World Reputation Rankings 2023: results announced


Browse the full results of the World Reputation Rankings 2023

Universities in the Arab region have shot up in their reputation, especially regionally, data from the latest THE World Reputation Rankings have revealed.

Analysis of the ranking, based on the world’s largest invitation-only opinion survey of scholars, shows that the share of votes going to universities in the Arab region has skyrocketed since 2021. Institutions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) saw a nine-fold increase in vote share during the period, while in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon the rise was three-fold, suggesting that universities in these nations are gaining esteem in academic circles.

As a result, there were huge improvements in how Arab universities placed in the 2023 reputation table, which publishes only the top 200 universities in the world for reputation.

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Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in Saudi Arabia climbed up from the 176-200 band to the 101-125 band, while two other Saudi Arabian universities, three UAE universities and one Lebanese university made the top 200 for the first time. 

The steep rise in the reputation of Arab universities is largely a regional trend, rather than a global one, however.

The data show that, on average, 70.6 per cent of the votes for Arab universities came from scholars based in the region itself.

This is in contrast to North American universities, where only 34.3 per cent of votes originated from the US and Canada – reflecting their renown further afield.

The survey received responses from 38,796 academics. The scholars were asked to name, at most, 15 universities that they believe are the best in both research and teaching in their field.

World Reputation Rankings 2023: top 10

Miguel Antonio Lim, senior lecturer in education and international development at the University of Manchester, said the results suggested that Arab universities’ reputation management was more “effective” in the region.

“They are able to communicate their own research findings more impactfully within their home region,” he said. 

The use of the Arabic language as a medium of instruction in Arab institutions also limited the extent to which reputation could be translated worldwide, according to Nadia Badrawi, president of the Arab Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ANQAHE).

However, she said that the Arab region was at the beginning of an era in which institutions were ramping up ranking submissions and applications for quality assurance certifications, which she said would help increase their visibility and reputation.

“Fifteen years ago, there was no real quality assurance in most of the universities. They 1711863224 want other countries to see what they have,” she explained.

Internationalisation efforts were also picking up in a way that had never been seen before, she said. From dual degrees to branch campuses, investment was being made to internationalise the institutions of the region.

The leaps made by Arab universities in the reputation ranking were echoed in other growing markets such as Africa and South America, although not as significantly. In contrast, long-standing higher education hubs such as North America showed only a marginal improvement on previous years.

Dr Lim said that the reputation performances revealed in the rankings were “relational and not absolute” and, therefore, the rising prestige of the Arab nations’ institutions did not suggest diminished prestige of more established systems.

The Arab region, he added, was an example of a case where institutions had grown in knowledge production and reputation management at the same time.


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