In a new ranking of higher-education systems in 50 countries, the United States tops the list but falls drastically when its level of economic development is factored in.
The annual ranking, by Universitas 21, an international group of universities, is based on measurements that include government spending, level of internationalization, and scientific output. Unlike global university rankings that rate individual institutions, the Universitas list, which was first published in 2012, examines entire national systems.
It places the United States in the top spot, ahead of Sweden and Canada, which come in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
Yet when the scores are adjusted for national levels of income, the United States drops to 15th place, behind such developing countries as China and Serbia. Under the revised methodology, three Nordic countries are the best: Sweden, Finland, and Denmark.