Which emerging economies have the best universities?

people cycle past a building in Peking University in Beijing, China

In the Times Higher Education (THE) Emerging Economies University Rankings 2022, Peking University has moved into pole position from 2021. Image: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

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  • China dominates the record number of universities that qualified for the Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings 2022.
  • THE’s survey ranks institutions from emerging economies classified as ‘advanced emerging’, ‘secondary emerging’ or ‘frontier’.
  • More than half of the universities from secondary emerging economies improved on or maintained their previous positions.
  • The success of secondary emerging countries in the 2022 rankings is driven by Russia, India and China.

China holds all of the top five slots in the Times Higher Education (THE) Emerging Economies University Rankings 2022. And out of a record 698 universities from 50 countries and regions listed, the region has secured 97 of the places in the rankings. Peking University has moved into pole position from 2021.

The rankings rate universities on a number of performance indicators, with institutions assessed based on their teaching, research, citations, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

They include institutions in countries or regions classified by the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE Group on a scale of development from ‘advanced emerging’ to ‘secondary emerging’ to ‘frontier’.

The same assessment criteria are used to compile THE's World University Rankings. However, the emerging economy rankings use different weightings to reflect development priorities.

This year, 104 universities make their debut, with the rankings showing strength in secondary emerging countries such as China, India and Russia.

a chart showing the emerging economy
Peking University overtakes Tsinghua University to secure the top position for 2022. Image: Times Higher Education

Secondary emerging market strength

More than half of the universities from secondary emerging economies improved on or maintained their previous positions.

Alongside China, India, too, has a strong showing in the rankings, with 71 of its universities ranked, including nine for the first time in 2022. Four Indian universities have made their mark in the top 100 this year, including the Indian Institute of Science, which secured a top-20 position for the seventh consecutive year. The biggest climb has been made by Saveetha University, which had previously sat in the 501+ band to reach number 166 on the list this year.


What is the World Economic Forum doing about the skills gap in India?

Another secondary emerging market with a strong representation is Russia. Of the 48 universities that ranked last year from Russia, 26 have improved or maintained their positions in 2022. Lomonosov Moscow State University is listed at number six, while Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology has climbed to 10th position, doubling Russia’s representation in the top 10 this year.

In a statement about this year’s THE Emerging Economies Rankings, Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at THE, said: “It is clear countries and regions from secondary emerging economies are still leading the way. Mainland China’s universities continue to dominate this year’s top positions off the back of continued targeted investment in its higher education system, a trend also seen in THE’s World University Rankings where they are now consistently challenging the world’s ‘elite’ institutions.”

“After what has been an extremely challenging 18 months for many, I’m confident universities from emerging economies have the strength and quality to adapt to a new hybrid way of teaching and learning.”

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Advanced-emerging and frontier markets

It is a different story for many in the advanced-emerging and frontier markets.

Some 223 advanced-emerging countries and regions make the rankings this year, however, half of them have lost positions and only 12% have seen an improvement. Meanwhile, more than half of the 66 universities included from frontier countries and regions have lost ground.


Globally, the gap between education and jobs is widening, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution has made it imperative that education adapts. Furthermore, COVID-19 has exposed the many inadequacies of education systems around the world. The World Economic Forum’s project Education 4.0 aims to prepare the next generation for a transition in education. Education 4.0 is part of the Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society Platform, which aims to provide better education, skills and jobs to one billion people by 2030.

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