The Middle East and North Africa region has one of the most youthful populations in the world. More than half – 55 percent – of the region’s populace is younger than 24, according to a July 2015 report from the Brookings Doha Center, a Qatar branch of a U.S.-based public policy think tank.
As these youth contemplate their future, they may turn to the region’s hundreds of colleges and universities. To help prospective university students, as well as parents, policymakers and employers, compare higher education institutions across the region, U.S. News has launched its 2016 Best Arab Region Universities rankings.
The second edition of the overall rankings encompasses 124 schools spread across 18 countries, up from 91 schools in 16 countries included in the inaugural rankings. The schools are ranked based on their academic research performance and, for the first time this year, their reputations.
The three highest-ranked universities overall – all located in Saudi Arabia – were also the top schools previously. King Saud University in Riyadh is No. 1, King Abdulaziz Universityin Jeddah is No. 2 and King Abdullah University of Science & Technology in Thuwal is No. 3.
Egypt has the most universities featured in the overall rankings, with 25 institutions earning a spot. Next is Algeria with 20 universities represented, followed by Saudi Arabiawith 16. At the other end of the spectrum, Libya, Oman, Qatar and Yemen all have one university included among the top 124.
The Best Arab Region Universities rankings are based on data and research metrics provided by Scopus, part of the Elsevier Research Intelligence portfolio. The overall rankings also draw on ratings of schools by academics and employers in the region who were surveyed by Ipsos in MENA, a global market research firm.
The U.S. News methodology used to calculate the overall rankings incorporates bibliometric indicators such as the number of published papers and citations, as well as the new reputation data. U.S. News also used a separate methodology based solely on research performance to rank universities by subject, such as computer science, engineering and medicine.
There was some shuffling of the top 10 overall universities, and one school jumped two spots to crack the top 10. The Université de Sfax in Tunisia was ranked No. 10 this year, after coming in at No. 12 previously. Another Tunisian university that made a notable jump is the Université de Tunis El Manar, which moved up to 11th place after previously being ranked 17th.
There were several new entrants to the top 20 this year. Alfaisal University in Saudi Arabia was unranked in the inaugural rankings and this year holds the No. 12 overall spot, whileMasdar Institute of Science and Technology in the United Arab Emirates made a sizable leap from a tie for 23rd to 14th place this year. Jordan University of Science & Technology– located in Irbid, Jordan, and previously tied for 23rd place – also moved into the top 20 and is now ranked No. 17 overall.
Though some highly ranked Egyptian universities held on to their previous positions, a few dropped in the rankings. Notably, Mansoura University fell from No. 6 overall to No. 13, and Assiut University shifted down from 13th place to 20th.
In addition to the overall rankings, students can explore how Arab region universities stack up against each other in key subjects. The subject rankings focus on universities’ academic research performance in specific fields. The rankings are not of academic majors, departments or specific schools at universities, such as business or medical schools.
New subjects covered this year include arts and humanities; business, management and accounting; decision sciences; dentistry; economics, econometrics and finance; neuroscience; nursing; and veterinary sciences. This brings the total number of subject-specific rankings to 24, up from 16 in the inaugural rankings.
Saudi schools hold the No. 1 spot in 19 of the 24 subject rankings. Non-Saudi schools that landed atop subject lists include: Lebanon’s American University of Beirut, the top-ranked school in arts and humanities and in social sciences; UAE’s American University of Sharjah, No. 1 in the business and economics categories; and Egypt’s Cairo University, ranked No. 1 in veterinary sciences.
King Saud University was the only school to be ranked in all 24 subjects, though Cairo University and King Abdulaziz University were close behind, each placing in 23.
Branch campuses of international universities are not included in the Best Arab Region Universities rankings. However, U.S. News has created a separate directory of more than 50 of these branch campuses for prospective students to explore.