higher education
These emerging economies are slowly gaining a strong reputation for international higher education. Source: Shutterstock

International student mobility today has become less restricted to top study abroad destinations like the US, UK and Australia.

While those countries still attract scores of international students year on year, there are a number of emerging countries that have made significant leaps in attracting international students and improving the quality of their academics.

These countries have been identified by Times Higher Education (THE)as having the most potential in improving their international rank, increasing the quality of their higher education institutions, and conducting more research – thus attracting more international students and foreign universities for research collaboration.

According to THE, “The Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings 2020 includes only institutions in countries classified by the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE Group as “advanced emerging”, “secondary emerging” or “frontier”.

The rankings use the same performance indicators as THE World University Rankings to rank institutions on their teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook, but they are “recalibrated to reflect the development priorities of universities in emerging economies”.

These are three emerging economies for higher education that fared well in the rankings table.


higher education

Tsinghua University, one of China’s leading universities. Source: Shutterstock

It should come as no surprise to those plugged into global higher education trends that China is on this list.

According to THE, “The People’s Republic claims 14 places in the top 30 of the THE Emerging Economies University Rankings 2020, up from 12 last year, including all of the top four places. Tsinghua University remains number one, while Peking University is second, Zhejiang University is third and the University of Science and Technology of China is fourth.”

Chinese institutions have seen great benefits the Belt and Road initiative, and the Chinese government has been investing heavily in local universities and implementing a number of initiatives to attract international students to study in China.

South Africa

higher education

Main entrance of the University of South Africa (UNISA), the largest university on the African continent. Source: Shutterstock

Although a total of 81 Chinese universities were represented in the rankings, South Africa is the top performer based on the average overall score among institutions in the top 200.

According to Educations, “South Africa’s education system has re-developed its focus toward helping graduates achieve a global, multicultural competitiveness – in some ways, a natural result of South Africa’s diverse population.

“With a current drive to boost their infrastructure, South African universities are also playing a greater role in the country’s development, addressing the fundamental needs of South Africans: maximizing innovation, reducing poverty, and creating jobs.

“Simultaneously, South African schools are seeking solutions to international problems such as climate change, achieved through teaching, research, and community outreach.”

Their efforts have paid off with an impressive score of 41.3 out of 100 in THE‘s rankings.


higher education

The University of Madras, a public state university in Chennai, India. Source: Shutterstock

After China, India’s universities have the second-highest representation in the rankings with 56 institutions. As the third-largest highest education system, there are a number of high-quality universities in the country.

THE reported, “India’s higher education system is one of the largest in the world, after China and the United States, and is especially known for its engineering schools. The country’s parliament declared institutes of technology as “institutes of national importance” in 1961, which helped the then newly established universities to grow and develop their reputations.

“The national competition for a place at one of India’s best universities is fierce but an increasing number of international students go to study there too. An advantage for international students is that all courses are taught in English.”

It has also been reported recently that the Indian government plans to allow universities to offer online degrees for the first time, a move that could “reshape education delivery in the country while blowing open the door to a previously limited market for U.S.-based online education services companies,” according to Inside Higher Ed.

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