Several universities in Asia and Europe have risen steadily to take over their North American counterparts in CoinDesk’s 2021 list of the top institutions for blockchain technology.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) took first place in the global rankings with a perfect score of 100, beating more than 230 institutions surveyed. 

Among the factors that earned NUS the win was the fact that it has numerous blockchain research centers. It has encouraged its students to organize blockchain clubs, corporate partnerships, and its revolutionary graduate program focused on digital financial technology. 

NUS wasn’t the only Asian university to make it into the rankings; in fact, Asian schools took an additional three slots in this year’s top ten. These were Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Tsinghua University in Beijing, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong in sixth, eighth, and ninth place respectively.

Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology took second place, while the University of California in Berkeley took third. Other institutions rounding up the top ten include the University of Zurich, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University College London, and ETH Zurich.

A considerable expansion of scope

This is the second time that CoinDesk has ranked the best schools for blockchain, but it’s actually the first time it has presented world rankings in the form of a global Top 50.

In 2020, the bitcoin and cryptocurrency-centric news site ranked the 30 best out of 46 schools tracked throughout the United States. 

Of last year’s top 30 schools, UC Berkeley managed to retain its third-place rank, but others dropped out of the top ten completely. Cornell University, which took second last year, fell considerably to 17th place. Last year’s fourth placer Stanford, however, fared better as it took the 12th place slot. 2020 fifth-placer Harvard took a serious plunge and ended up close to the bottom at 49.

Stricter criteria = considerably different results

Researcher Reuben Youngblom led this year’s screening process in collaboration with CoinDesk. It involved going through numerous publicly available sources that included each school’s program prospectus, course catalogs, social media channels, and even student club web pages. 

This enabled the team to create and deploy an online survey wherein faculty, students, and other stakeholders could rate the blockchain initiatives as their respective schools as well as those of competing institutions. 

Factors influencing the outcome of this year’s rankings included a new metric that compares the cost of unsubsidized tuition with the current cost of living in each school’s home region or country.