Purpose: Study how economic parameters affect positions in the Academic Ranking of World Universities' top 500 published by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Graduate School of Education in countries/regions with listed higher education institutions. Design/methodology/approach: The methodology used capitalises on the multi-variate characteristics of the data analysed. The multi-colinearity problem posed is solved by running principal components prior to regression analysis, using both classical (OLS) and robust (Huber and Tukey) methods. Findings: Our results revealed that countries/regions with long ranking traditions are highly competitive. Findings also showed that some countries/regions such as Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy, had a larger number of universities in the top positions than predicted by the regression model. In contrast, for Japan, a country where social and economic performance is high, the number of ARWU universities projected by the model was much larger than the actual figure. In much the same vein, countries/regions that invest heavily in education, such as Japan and Denmark, had lower than expected results. Research limitations: Using data from only one ranking is a limitation of this study, but the methodology used could be useful to other global rankings. Practical implications: The results provide good insights for policy makers. They indicate the existence of a relationship between research output and the number of universities per million inhabitants. Countries/regions, which have historically prioritised higher education, exhibited highest values for indicators that compose the rankings methodology; furthermore, minimum increase in welfare indicators could exhibited significant rises in the presence of their universities on the rankings. Originality/value: This study is well defined and the result answers important questions about characteristics of countries/regions and their higher education system.
academic ranking of world universities; socio-economic indicators;regression analysis