Webometrics Ranking Reveals Regional Disparities

The Ranking Web of Universities, usually just known as Webometrics, has been published since 2004 and ranks more than 30,000 universities. At the moment it has four indicators covering web activity and research:

  • Presence (weighting 5%); number of pages in the main webdomain of the institution
  • Visibility (50%) number of external networks linking to the institutions
  • Transparency or Openness (10%); number of citations reported in Google Scholar Profiles
  • Excellence or Scholar (35%); number of papers among the top 10% most cited in 26 disciplines.

At the top the rankings have few surprises: the top five are Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, and the University of Washington. However, a look at the regional distribution of universities shows some interesting patterns. Among them are stark and growing regional disparities.

Within the various regions, there is a tendency for research and web activity to concentrate in certain areas. A few countries dominate the overall rankings and the indicators while many countries perform very badly.

There has been discussion recently of the rise of Asian universities. These rankings suggest that in this respect Asia means China and East Asia. The leading Asian university is Tsinghua, followed by Hong Kong, the National University of Singapore, Peking and Tokyo. The best performance by a South Asian institution is the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in 513th place. There are no universities in the world top 1000 from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal or Bangladesh or from anywhere in Central Asia.

Similarly, eight of the top ten universities in Africa are from South Africa with Cairo University in sixth place and the University of Nairobi in tenth.

In Latin America, the rankings are led by four counties, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile while there are none from Paraguay, Bolivia, Venezuela or Cuba in the top 1000 while in the Middle East the first five places are held by Israeli universities.


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