AHMEDABAD, INDIA – No country dominates any industry as much as the United States dominates higher education. According to Shanghai Jiao-Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities, for example, 17 of the world’s 20 best universities are American, with Harvard topping the list by a substantial margin.
The traditional explanation for this phenomenon – America’s wealth, large population, generous research funding, widespread private philanthropy, and ability to attract scholars from around the world – is incomplete. Although the US boasts the world’s largest economy, it comprises only one-quarter of global GDP, and possesses roughly one-twentieth of the world’s population. And its support for research is not unique.