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US and UK challenged in the Top 100 under 50 ranking

Postech University in Korea

The Times Higher Education magazine today publishes the inaugural Times Higher Education 100 Under 50. The new annual ranking, which is published in addition to the prestigious World University Rankings, lists the world’s best 100 universities under the age of 50 years.

The THE 100 Under 50 ranking shows which nations are challenging the US and UK as the next higher education powerhouses and provides a unique insight into who the future Harvard and Cambridge universities may be. In total, 30 different countries and regions are represented in the top 100.

The inaugural THE 100 Under 50 is headed by South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology, which at just 26 years old has made staggering progress with the backing of significant private investment and strong political support.

The 2nd place entry is for Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 3rd. The University of California, Irvine is 4th and another representative from South Korea, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology takes 5th place.

Université Pierre et Marie Curie, of France, takes 6th place, followed by the University of California, Santa Cruz in 7th.

The UK takes the last 3 places in the top 10. The highest-placed UK institution is the University of York, in 8th, followed by Lancaster University in 9th and the University of East Anglia in 10th.

Although its best “under 50” universities fail to reach the very top of the table, the UK has more institutions in the THE 100 Under 50 list than any other nation, with 20 representatives that include: University of Warwick, famously known for its Manufacturing department, Brunel University and University of Surrey.

However, one of the best performers in the ranking is Australia with 14 representatives in the top table, including Macquarie University, Queensland University of Technology, Charles Darwin University and University of South Australia.

 “This new list of the best 100 universities under the age of 50 is brilliant news for Australia” said Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings. “Only the UK has more representatives in the top 100 list than Australia, which beats the US, France, Germany and Canada, to name but a few. Australia’s older universities already do very well in the traditional world rankings, so this new list is a real sign of the strength in depth of the Australian system.

“Universities founded in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s all feature in this top 100, suggesting that Australia has never rested on its laurels and relied on a more traditional elite.”

East Asia, specifically Malaysia with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in the top 100, is a strong performer, reflecting a clear commitment in recent years to investing and supporting world-class higher education. Singapore has 1 representative, Nanyang Technological University, in the world top 20 in 16th place.

Image: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings, also mentioned:  “This innovative global ranking of institutions under 50 years old serves as a clear warning to the traditional elites in the US and UK that new powers in higher education and research are quickly emerging […] With focused investment, innovation, strategic vision and lots of talent, some institutions have managed to achieve in a matter of years what the traditional elite universities have developed over many generations.”

The Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 is part of the portfolio of university ranking systems that have established Times Higher Education as the most respected and most widely cited provider of comparative university performance data in the world. The THE 100 Under 50 is based on the same rigorous and comprehensive range of 13 separate performance indicators used to compile the prestigious THE World University Rankings, covering all key elements of university performance – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and internationalisation. But to better reflect the profile of younger institutions, the indicators have been carefully recalibrated, based on expert consultation.

Data for the Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 was provided by Thomson Reuters from its Global Institutional Profiles Project, an ongoing, multi-stage process to collect and validate factual data about academic institutional performance across a variety of aspects and multiple disciplines.


Top 10 Under
50 Rank

World University
Rankings position


Country / Region



Pohang University of Science

and Technology

Korea, Republic Of



École Polytechnique Fédérale

de Lausanne




The Hong Kong University of Science

and Technology

Hong Kong



University of California, Irvine

United States



Korea Advanced Institute of Science

and Technology

Korea, Republic Of



Université Pierre et Marie Curie




University of California, Santa Cruz

United States



University of York

United Kingdom



Lancaster University

United Kingdom



University of East Anglia

United Kingdom


Source:  Times Higher Education 2012.


Read more

Find out more information about studying in UK, US and Australia.

Read more about the Times Higher Education reputation rankings.


Image: Postech University in South Korea.

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