In order to enhance their global competitiveness, governments in Europe and Asia have started to conduct comprehensive reviews of and implement plans to restructure their higher education systems, with attempts to transform their higher education systems in the image of 'world-class' university. With strong intentions to perform well in the Global University Ranking, universities in Europe and Asia have adopted different reform measures to enhance their research performance. Central to the quest for the world-class status, we have witnessed the emerging global model (EGM) of the research university in the 21st century, a description of the top stratum of research universities worldwide. It is against this particular context that different forms of university research networks, university alliance or international research consortia have evolved to promote international collaboration aiming at higher ranking in the global university league. The principal goal of this article aims at critically examining the notions and practices of what it means to be a world-class university in the context of Europe and Asia, especially attempting to examine the impacts of the quest for the world-class status on higher education in Europe and Asia.