Journal of Data and Information Science ›› 2019, Vol. 4 ›› Issue (2): 56-78.doi: 10.2478/jdis-2019-0009

• Research Paper • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Does a Country/Region’s Economic Status Affect Its Universities’ Presence in International Rankings?

Esteban Fernández Tuesta1,2,Carlos Garcia-Zorita2,3,4,5,Rosario Romera Ayllon4,6,Elías Sanz-Casado2,3,4†()   

  1. 1Escola de Artes, Ciências e Humanidades, Universidade de S?o Paulo, Brazil;
    2Department of Library Science and Documentation, Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain
    3Laboratory of Metric Studies on Information (LEMI), Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain
    4Research Institute for Higher Education and Science (INAECU), Madrid, Spain
    5Associated Unit IFS (CSIC)-LEMI (UC3M), Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain
    6Department of Statistics, Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain
  • Received:2019-02-05 Revised:2019-03-02 Online:2019-05-29 Published:2019-05-30


Purpose: Study how economic parameters affect positions in the Academic Ranking of World Universities’ top 500 published by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Graduate School of Education in countries/regions with listed higher education institutions.

Design/methodology/approach: The methodology used capitalises on the multi-variate characteristics of the data analysed. The multi-colinearity problem posed is solved by running principal components prior to regression analysis, using both classical (OLS) and robust (Huber and Tukey) methods.

Findings: Our results revealed that countries/regions with long ranking traditions are highly competitive. Findings also showed that some countries/regions such as Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy, had a larger number of universities in the top positions than predicted by the regression model. In contrast, for Japan, a country where social and economic performance is high, the number of ARWU universities projected by the model was much larger than the actual figure. In much the same vein, countries/regions that invest heavily in education, such as Japan and Denmark, had lower than expected results.

Research limitations: Using data from only one ranking is a limitation of this study, but the methodology used could be useful to other global rankings.

Practical implications: The results provide good insights for policy makers. They indicate the existence of a relationship between research output and the number of universities per million inhabitants. Countries/regions, which have historically prioritised higher education, exhibited highest values for indicators that compose the rankings methodology; furthermore, minimum increase in welfare indicators could exhibited significant rises in the presence of their universities on the rankings.

Originality/value: This study is well defined and the result answers important questions about characteristics of countries/regions and their higher education system.

Key words: Academic Ranking of World Universities, Socio-economic indicators, Regression analysis