Universities in Saudi Arabia claimed four out of the five top spots in the inaugural Arab University Rankings published by the prestigious Times Higher Education magazine.
Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz University was ranked best in the Arab world, Qatar University was second, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal was third.
Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in al-Khobar ranked fourth, and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dahran ranked fifth.
King Abdulaziz University is a public institution founded in 1967. Its alumni include Nahed Taher, founder and CEO of Gulf One Investment Bank, and Sulaiman Abdul Aziz al-Rajhi, owner of Al Rahji Bank.
The rankings were put together through a rigorous process of surveying academics, students, and members of the public.
More than 12,000 academics from the Arab world who had been cited in published papers were surveyed about the perceived prestige of institutions in teaching and research.
Ratios of staff to student numbers are also considered, with the more postgraduate students undertaking research at a university the higher the rank.
Universities financial status were also examined – a higher income suggesting better facilities and more research capability.
More productive universities rank higher, measured by how many papers are published in quality peer-reviewed journals. The impact of these papers is also assessed by how many times they are cited.
Better universities make an impact within their wider society, according to the ranking system. If a university is able to attract more funding from commercial enterprises, it ranks higher.
Institutions with an international outlook are considered better, and the ability to attract students from abroad is looked upon favorably.
Times Higher Education has been publishing university rankings in the UK since 2004.