(this is an update of a posting last year) Rankings are always fun to pore over, even when woefully inaccurate (Norway's football squad, never a contender for anything, was in October 1993 ranked number 2 in the world by FIFA) and this month sees the release of the second annual U21 ranking of higher education systems. The ranking by U21 "aims to highlight the importance of creating a strong environment for higher education institutions to contribute to economic and cultural development, provide a high-quality experience for students and help institutions compete for overseas applicants." Norway was ranked 7 in the world in the U21 survey last year, but has fallen to 11 this year, still behind its Nordic neighbors Sweden (2), Finland (4) and Denmark (5). The US tops the list, with Canada in third place. The high ranking suggests that Norway has much to offer beyond the quality of its institutions, since none of its top 4 universities - Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø - rank within the top 200 in the Times Higher Ed rankings. The U21 rankings seek to a address "a longstanding need to shift discussion from the existing rankings of the world’s best universities to the standing of the whole higher education system in each country" - and assess the national education systems according to resources (investment by government and private sector), output (research and its impact, as well as the production of an educated workforce which meets labour market needs), connectivity (international networks and collaboration which protects a system against insularity) and environment (government policy and regulation, diversity and participation opportunities).
(but - for what it's worth - the QS World University Rankings have the University of Oslo and the University of Bergen at a respectable 111 and 145 respectively. And in the field of Education, the University of Oslo's Utdanningsvitenskapelige fakultet ranks 42nd in the world - impressive! )