Saudi Arabia tops Arab World University rankings

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JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University has topped a new Times Higher Education ranking of the best institutions in the Arab region. The Jeddah-based university takes the No. 1 spot in the THE Arab World University Rankings 2018 thanks to its very strong citation impact and highly international outlook.

The top five is completed by the United Arab Emirates’ Khalifa University (formerly Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research), Qatar University, Jordan University of Science and Technology and United Arab Emirates University.

The league table is based on the same methodology as THE’s flagship World University Rankings but includes only universities located in nations that are members of the Arab League.

Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, Alfaisal University has climbed two places to seventh thanks to big improvements in its research environment, citation impact and industry income. But King Saud University has fallen five places to eighth and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals has dropped seven places to ninth.

King Saud University saw a slight drop in its scores for research environment and industry income, while King Fahd University’s industry income score plummeted and the institution achieved a poorer performance for teaching environment, research environment and international outlook.

Egypt is the most-represented nation in the table, claiming nine of the 31 places, up from eight last year. However, it has just one top-10 representative: Beni-Suef University at 10th place.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia takes five spots, United Arab Emirates claims four, and Morocco and Jordan each have three.

The United Arab Emirates is one of the strongest nations in the table. Alongside Khalifa University and United Arab Emirates University in the top 10, American University of Sharjah has jumped two places to 12th while newcomer University of Sharjah makes its debut at 14th.

Jordan University of Science and Technology has climbed four places to fourth place, largely due to a big rise in its citation impact performance, but Hashemite University has fallen eight places to 31st after achieving a lower score on this indicator while the University of Jordan has dropped three places to 22nd due to declines in its international outlook score.

Morocco has had a relatively stable performance, with none of its three representatives moving more than two places. University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad is the nation’s top institution at 19th place (down from 17th).

Meanwhile, Tunisia has two institutions, both of which have fallen slightly: University of Tunis El Manar at 28th (down from 26th) and University of Monastir at 30th (down from 27th). Overall, 11 nations make the list. The Arab League currently consists of 22 member states.

Data from Elsevier’s Scopus bibliometric database, which is used to compile the ranking, illustrate how Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been driving their scholarship forwards through internationalization. In all three nations, more than 60 percent of research between 2014 and 2017 featured at least one co-author from outside the country. The international collaboration rates for Switzerland and Singapore — two of the most open research nations in the world — were both lower than those of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The results will be revealed at THE’s MENA Universities Summit, which is being held in partnership with King Abdulaziz University from March19 to 21.

Phil Baty, THE’s editorial director of global rankings, said: “Congratulations to King Abdulaziz University for topping this table. The ranking uses the same 13 rigorous and demanding performance indicators as the overall World University Rankings so it is a great achievement.

“The results demonstrate that leading universities are found across the Arab region. While Egypt dominates the table, universities from 11 countries make the list, proving what a diverse and competitive higher education region the Arab world is becoming.

“However, the ranking also shows that there is a lack of data on higher education institutions in the region. Of the 1,102 universities that make our World University Rankings, just 31 are based in the Arab world. We hope that more universities in the region will participate in future years.”

Abdulrahman Al-Youbi, president of King Abdulaziz University, said: “We are excited to hear the great news that King Abdulaziz University has been ranked at the top of Times Higher Education’s list of the best universities in the Arab World for the third year in a row.

“KAU takes pride in this prestigious recognition from a world leader in university ranking based on bespoke, rigorous, and balanced performance indicators. It is our mission at KAU to continue on the road towards excellence in higher education inspired by best practices in academia to serve the larger community. Our value system doesn’t view ranking as an end in itself, but rather as a means of enabling the critical self-reflection necessary for us to deliver quality higher education and create a world-class learning environment.

“Being the top university in the Arab world is not the end of our story as we aspire to be among the top 200 universities in the world to fulfill a part of the Saudi Vision 2030. This goal requires KAU to shoulder an ever-increasing responsibility to secure our long-term success. This road is not easy as we continue with our strategic plan to advance the existing knowledge and skills of our students and faculty, promote national prosperity, and expand our research initiatives to reach global significance.

“However, we are fully committed to all of these endeavors and certainly view our latest ranking as a significant step in that direction.” — SG


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