Encyclopedia of International Higher Education Systems and Institutions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pedro Teixeira (Editor-in-Chief), Jung Cheol Shin (Editor-in-Chief)

World-Class Universities

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9553-1_37-1



Top universities operating at the cutting edge of intellectual and scientific development at the global level.

Defining World-Class Universities

Within the higher education system, research universities play a critical role in training the professionals, high-level specialists, scientists, and researchers needed by the economy and in generating new knowledge in support of the national innovation system (World Bank 2002). In this context, an increasingly pressing priority of many governments is to make sure that their top universities are considered as “world-class,” meaning that they actually operate at the cutting edge of intellectual and scientific development, as recognized by the global rankings. This discussion focuses exclusively on research-intensive universities, a small but very important part of any nation’s higher education system. These universities produce most of the research, are...


High Education System Peer Review Process Global Ranking Excellence Initiative Shanghai Ranking 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Aghion, Philip, Mathias Dewatripont, Caroline Hoxby, Andreu Mas-Colell, and André Sapir. 2007. Why reform Europe’s universities? Policy brief 2007/04. Brussels: Bruegel.Google Scholar
  2. Altbach, Philip, and Jamil Salmi. 2011. The road to academic excellence: The making of world-class research universities. Washington, DC: The World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Kabuki, Suvendrini. 2015. Restrictions on collaboration are hindering international research. University World News, January 9. Issue No. 349.Google Scholar
  4. OECD. 2014. Promoting research excellence: New approaches to funding. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  5. Salmi, Jamil. 2009. The challenge of establishing world-class universities. Washington, DC: Directions in Development, The World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Salmi, Jamil. 2012. The vintage handicap: Can a young university achieve world-class status? Times Higher Education Supplement. London.Google Scholar
  7. Salmi, Jamil. 2016. Excellence strategies and the creation of World-class University. In Hazelkorn E. ed. Global Banking and the Geopolitics of Higher Education: Understanding the influence and impact of rankings on higher education, policy and society. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. World Bank. 2002. Constructing knowledge societies: New challenges for tertiary education. Washington, DC: Directions in Development, The World Bank.Google Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Diego Portales UniversitySantiagoChile
  2. 2.Center for International Higher EducationBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA