University rankings

The Times Higher Education Supplement [subscribers only - guest subscription available] has compiled a list of the 'top' 200 universities worldwide. The list is interesting as a sign of the growing international competitiveness of higher education. It appears that it will be refined in future years.

A major contributor to the ranking is a survey of 1,300 academics. A further component is based on citation analysis, where they calculate the number of citations per faculty member. The authors suggest that citation analysis tends to favor institutions in the US, and, to a lesser extent, other English-speaking countries. It also favors, they suggest, the sciences over other subjects. "These figures may reignite discussion of English-language bias in bibliometric measurement." Other interesting notes:

  • Harvard has an endowment of nearly $23 billion, second in the world only to the Vatican's.
  • The London School of Economics is the world leader in international student appeal.
  • The California Institute of Technology comes top in the citations count, followed by ETH, Zurich.
  • "The overall lesson is that national affluence matters more than size in generating and enhancing academic success. While research may be a driver of economic success, it is hard to have the first without the second. The strong showing of small, rich countries such as Denmark and Sweden, each with two institutions listed, and the Netherlands with six, is evidence of the link. By contrast, Ireland's total of one, Trinity College Dublin, may reflect the fact that its recent economic success has been based on inward investment rather than domestic innovation. Munich's status as home to two ranked universities may well owe much to Bavaria's status as a European centre for electronics and biotechnology."
  • McGill has the most international faculty and the highest percentage of international students in North America.
  • Berkeley came top in the 'peer review' component, ahead of Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, MIT, Stanford, Tokyo, Princeton, Yale, and Beijing (in that order).
The top fifteen in the overall ranking were, in descending order: Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, California Institute of Technology, Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, ETH Zurich, London School of Economics, Tokyo University, University of Chicago, Imperial College London, University of Texas at Austin.

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