Saudi Arabia, Egypt 'fastest risers' in world university rankings

Saudi Arabia, Egypt 'fastest risers' in world university rankings
Saudi Arabia and Egypt were the two fastest-rising countries on the Times Higher Education's world university rankings for 2022, largely due to research impact.
2 min read
02 September, 2021
Five Saudi universities made it to the Times Higher Education world university guide's top 400 [Getty-file photo]

Saudi Arabia and Egypt were the "fastest risers" in the world's best universities for 2022 index, according to an authoritative report published on Thursday.

Universities in the two Arab countries rose higher in the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine's world university rankings in four years than any other country, including China.

"The success for these nations was largely driven by major improvements in scores for research impact – based on citation analysis," Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer at THE wrote in an article for the World Economic Forum's website. 

Egypt's rise was also helped by its industry income score.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz University reached 190th place - the first time a higher education institution in the Gulf kingdom has reached the top 200 in the rankings.

Fifteen Saudi universities made it to the rankings in total, five of which landed in the top 400.

Riyadh said in its Saudi Vision 2030 strategic framework that it wants to have five universities in the top 200 by the end of the decade.

A record 1,662 universities made it into the rankings, Baty said.

Manar Sabry, senior assistant director for strategic analysis at SUNY Binghamton University and an expert on higher education in the Middle East and North Africa region, said that Saudi Arabia's and Egypt's gains "follow decades of policy-driven growth in scientific research and an increase in funding" as well as collaboration with international research partners.

"Collaborative publications receive more citations and are of better quality, thus having a greater chance of being published in high impact journals," she told THE.

Sabry said this trend "can be sustained" but that the countries must improve academic job security and address issues relating to research bureaucracy and academic freedoms.

Both countries have detained academics on grounds questioned by human rights groups.