A Rising Crescent?
One advantage of the methodological stability of the Shanghai university rankings is that it is possible to identify long term changes even though the year by year changes may be quite small.
One trend that becomes apparent when comparing the 2003 and 2011 rankings is the increasing number of universities from predominantly Muslim countries.
In 2003 there was exactly one listed, Istanbul University.
This year there were six: King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, in the 201-300 band, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia, Tehran University and Istanbul University in the 301-400 band and Cairo University and Universiti Malaya in the 401-500.
In the next year or two King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, headed by a former president of the National University of Singapore, will probably join the list.