Times Higher Education World University Rankings

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This article is about the rankings published since 2010. For the rankings using a different methodology and previously published jointly with Quacquarelli Symonds, see QS World University Rankings.
Times Higher Education World University Rankings
WUR logo large.jpg
Editor Phil Baty
Categories Higher education
Frequency Annual
Publisher Times Higher Education
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Website Times Higher Education World University Rankings

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings (or THE World University Rankings) are annual world university rankings published by the British magazine Times Higher Education (THE) with data supplied by Thomson Reuters that provides citation database information. They include both the overall and the subject rankings. Moreover, the additional World Reputation Rankings which are independent of the main rankings have also been released starting from 2011.

Originally, the Times Higher Education began publishing the Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings in 2004 with Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) but they ended their partnership in 2010 and both started to release their own rankings. QS has published its rankings with the old existing methodology as the QS World University Rankings, while Times created and adopted a new one.

Today, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings are regarded to be one of the three most influential and widely observed international university rankings, along with the QS World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).[1][2][3]


The creation of the original Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings was credited in Ben Wildavsky's book, The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities are Reshaping the World,[4] to then-editor of Times Higher Education, John O'Leary. Times Higher Education chose to partner with educational and careers advice company QS to supply the data.

After the 2009 rankings, Times Higher Education took the decision to break from QS and signed an agreement with Thomson Reuters to provide the data for its annual World University Rankings from 2010 onwards. The publication developed a new rankings methodology in consultation with its readers, its editorial board and Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters will collect and analyse the data used to produce the rankings on behalf of Times Higher Education. The first ranking was published in September 2010.[5]

Commenting on Times Higher Education's decision to split from QS, former editor Ann Mroz said: "universities deserve a rigorous, robust and transparent set of rankings – a serious tool for the sector, not just an annual curiosity." She went on to explain the reason behind the decision to continue to produce rankings without QS' involvement, saying that: "The responsibility weighs heavy on our shoulders...we feel we have a duty to improve how we compile them."[6]

Phil Baty, editor of the new Times Higher Education World University Rankings, admitted in Inside Higher Ed: "The rankings of the world's top universities that my magazine has been publishing for the past six years, and which have attracted enormous global attention, are not good enough. In fact, the surveys of reputation, which made up 40 percent of scores and which Times Higher Education until recently defended, had serious weaknesses. And it's clear that our research measures favored the sciences over the humanities."[7]

He went on to describe previous attempts at peer review as "embarrassing" in The Australian: "The sample was simply too small, and the weighting too high, to be taken seriously."[8] THE published its first rankings using its new methodology on 16 September 2010, a month earlier than previous years.[9]

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, along with the QS World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities are described to be the three most influential international university rankings.[1][10] The Globe and Mail in 2010 described the Times Higher Education World University Rankings to be "arguably the most influential."[11]

Methodology of the major rankings[edit]

The inaugural 2010-2011 methodology is 13 separate indicators grouped under five categories: Teaching (30 percent of final score), research (30 percent), citations (research impact) (worth 32.5 percent), international mix (5 percent), industry income (2.5 percent). The number of indicators is up from the Times-QS rankings published between 2004 and 2009, which used six indicators.[12]

A draft of the methodology was released on 3 June 2010. The draft stated that 13 indicators would first be used and that this could rise to 16 in future rankings, and laid out the categories of indicators as "research indicators" (55 percent), "institutional indicators" (25 percent), "economic activity/innovation" (10 percent), and "international diversity" (10 percent).[13] The names of the categories and the weighting of each was modified in the final methodology, released on 16 September 2010.[12] The final methodology also included the weighting signed to each of the 13 indicators, shown below:[12]

Overall indicator Individual indicators Percentage weightings
Industry Income – innovation
  • Research income from industry (per academic staff)
  • 2.5%
International diversity
  • Ratio of international to domestic staff
  • Ratio of international to domestic students
  • 3%
  • 2%
Teaching – the learning environment
  • Reputational survey (teaching)
  • PhDs awards per academic
  • Undergrad. admitted per academic
  • Income per academic
  • PhDs/undergraduate degrees awarded
  • 15%
  • 6%
  • 4.5%
  • 2.25%
  • 2.25%
Research – volume, income and reputation
  • Reputational survey (research)
  • Research income (scaled)
  • Papers per research and academic staff
  • Public research income/ total research income
  • 19.5%
  • 5.25%
  • 4.5%
  • 0.75%
Citations – research influence
  • Citation impact (normalised average citation per paper)
  • 32.5%

The Times Higher Education billed the methodology as "robust, transparent and sophisticated," stating that the final methodology was selected after considering 10 months of "detailed consultation with leading experts in global higher education," 250 pages of feedback from "50 senior figures across every continent" and 300 postings on its website.[12] The overall ranking score was calculated by making Z-scores all datasets to standardize different data types on a common scale to better make comparisons among data.[12]

The reputational component of the rankings (34.5 percent of the overall score – 15 percent for teaching and 19.5 percent for research) came from an Academic Reputation Survey conducted by Thomson Reuters in spring 2010. The survey gathered 13,388 responses among scholars "statistically representative of global higher education's geographical and subject mix."[12] The magazine's category for "industry income – innovation" came from a sole indicator, institution's research income from industry scaled against the number of academic staff." The magazine stated that it used this data as "proxy for high-quality knowledge transfer" and planned to add more indicators for the category in future years.[12]

Data for citation impact (measured as a normalized average citation per paper), comprising 32.5 percent of the overall score, came from 12,000 academic journals indexed by Thomson Reuters' large Web of Science database over the five years from 2004 to 2008. The Times stated that articles published in 2009–2010 have not yet completely accumulated in the database.[12] The normalization of the data differed from the previous rankings system and is intended to "reflect variations in citation volume between different subject areas," so that institutions with high levels of research activity in the life sciences and other areas with high citation counts will not have an unfair advantage over institutions with high levels of research activity in the social sciences, which tend to use fewer citations on average.[12]

The magazine announced on 5 September 2011 that its 2011–2012 World University Rankings would be published on 6 October 2011.[14] At the same time, the magazine revealed changes to the ranking formula that will be introduced with the new rankings. The methodology will continue to use 13 indicators across five broad categories and will keep its "fundamental foundations," but with some changes. Teaching and research will each remain 30 percent of the overall score, and industry income will remain at 2.5 percent. However, a new "international outlook – staff, students and research" will be introduced and will make up 7.5 percent of the final score. This category will include the proportion of international staff and students at each institution (included in the 2011–2012 ranking under the category of "international diversity"), but will also add the proportion of research papers published by each institution that are co-authored with at least one international partner. One 2011–2012 indicator, the institution's public research income, will be dropped.[14]

On 13 September 2011, the Times Higher Education announced that its 2011–2012 list will only rank the top 200 institutions. Phil Baty wrote that this was in the "interests of fairness," because "the lower down the tables you go, the more the data bunch up and the less meaningful the differentials between institutions become." However, Baty wrote that the rankings would include 200 institutions that fall immediately outside the official top 200 according to its data and methodology, but this "best of the rest" list from 201 to 400 would be unranked and listed alphabetically. Baty wrote that the magazine intentionally only ranks around 1 percent of the world's universities in a recognition that "not every university should aspire to be one of the global research elite."[15]

The methodology of the rankings has been refined during the 2011-12 rankings process, the details of the new methodology can be found here.[16] Phil Baty, the rankings editor, has said that the THE World University Rankings are the only global university rankings to examine a university’s teaching environment, as others focus purely on research.[17] Baty has also written that the THE World University Rankings are the only rankings to put arts and humanities and social sciences research on an equal footing to the sciences.[18]


The reception to the methodology was varied.

Ross Williams of the Melbourne Institute, commenting on the 2010–2011 draft, stated that the proposed methodology would favour more focused "science-based institutions with relatively few undergraduates" at the expense of institutions with more comprehensive programmes and undergraduates, but also stated that the indicators were "academically robust" overall and that the use of scaled measures would reward productivity rather than overall influence.[19] Steve Smith, president of Universities UK, praised the new methodology as being "less heavily weighted towards subjective assessments of reputation and uses more robust citation measures," which "bolsters confidence in the evaluation method."[20] David Willetts, British Minister of State for Universities and Science praised the rankings, noting that "reputation counts for less this time, and the weight accorded to quality in teaching and learning is greater."[21]


Times Higher Education gives much importance to citations on their ranking. This has been criticised for undermining universities that do not use English as their primary language.[22] Citations and publications in a language different from English are harder to come across.[23] A second important disadvantage for universities of non Anglo-Saxon tradition is that within the disciplines of social sciences and humanities the main tool for publications are books which are not or only rarely covered by citations records.[24]

World University Rankings[edit]

Overall rankings[edit]

There is a total of 400 universities being ranked and the top 50 are as follows (according to the latest result):

Times Higher Education World University Rankings—Top 50
2013–14[25] 2012–13[26] 2011–12[27] 2010–11[28] Institute Region
1 1 1 2 California Institute of Technology  United States
2 4 2 1 Harvard University  United States
2 2 4 6 University of Oxford  United Kingdom
4 3 2 4 Stanford University  United States
5 5 7 3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology  United States
6 6 5 5 Princeton University  United States
7 7 6 6 University of Cambridge  United Kingdom
8 9 10 8 University of California, Berkeley  United States
9 10 9 12 University of Chicago  United States
10 8 8 9 Imperial College London  United Kingdom
11 11 11 10 Yale University  United States
12 13 13 11 University of California, Los Angeles  United States
13 14 12 18 Columbia University  United States
14 12 15 15 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich)   Switzerland
15 16 14 13 Johns Hopkins University  United States
16 15 16 19 University of Pennsylvania  United States
17 23 22 24 Duke University  United States
18 20 18 15 University of Michigan  United States
19 18 20 14 Cornell University  United States
20 21 19 17 University of Toronto  Canada
21 17 17 22 University College London  United Kingdom
22 19 26 25 Northwestern University  United States
23 27 30 26 University of Tokyo  Japan
24 22 21 20 Carnegie Mellon University  United States
25 24 25 23 University of Washington  United States
26 29 40 34 National University of Singapore  Singapore
27 25 29 -- University of Texas at Austin  United States
28 25 24 27 Georgia Institute of Technology  United States
29 33 31 33 University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign  United States
30 31 27 -- University of Wisconsin-Madison  United States
31 30 22 30 University of British Columbia  Canada
32 39 47 86 London School of Economics and Political Science  United Kingdom
33 35 35 29 University of California, Santa Barbara  United States
34 28 37 36 University of Melbourne  Australia
35 34 28 35 McGill University  Canada
36 42 32 43 Karolinska Institute  Sweden
37 40 46 48 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL)   Switzerland
38 57 56 77 King's College London  United Kingdom
39 32 36 40 University of Edinburgh  United Kingdom
40 41 44 60 New York University  United States
40 38 33 32 University of California, San Diego  United States
42 44 41 38 Washington University in St Louis  United States
43 35 34 21 The University of Hong Kong  Hong Kong
44 59 124 109 Seoul National University  South Korea
45 46 49 37 Peking University  China
46 47 42 52 University of Minnesota  United States
47 42 43 30 University of North Carolina Chapel Hill  United States
48 37 38 43 Australian National University  Australia
49 61 51 109 Pennsylvania State University  United States
50 54 54 59 Boston University  United States
50 52 71 58 Tsinghua University  China
THE–QS World University Rankings, 2004
THE–QS World University Rankings, 2005
THE–QS World University Rankings, 2006
THE–QS World University Rankings, 2007
THE–QS World University Rankings, 2008
THE–QS World University Rankings, 2009

Rankings by subjects[edit]

Times has also provided rankings by subjects. Various academic disciplines are sorted into six categories which are "Arts & Humanities"; "Clinical, Pre-clinical & Health"; "Engineering & Technology"; "Life sciences"; "Physical sciences"; and "Social sciences", each of which gives the positions of the top 100 tertiary institutions, according to the latest rankings.[29]

Such rankings are released annually, along with the major overall rankings.

THE 100 under 50 universities[edit]

Times has provided rankings of THE 100 Under 50 universities since 2012 to judge the world's top 100 tertiary institutions that are under 50 years old. This ranking adopts the same 13 separate indicators as the World University Rankings but the weighting is different.[30]

World Reputation Rankings[edit]

The graph shows the number of universities included in the TIMES Higher Education Top 100 2008, by region

Since March 2011, Times Higher Education has released an additional type of rankings called the "World Reputation Rankings"[31] which are a subsidiary of the major world university rankings and rank the top 100 universities by reputation based on a global survey. Such reputation rankings are independent of the main rankings.

Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed said of the new rankings: "...Most outfits that do rankings get criticized for the relative weight given to reputation as opposed to objective measures. While Times Higher Education does overall rankings that combine various factors, it is today releasing rankings that can't be criticized for being unclear about the impact of reputation – as they are strictly of reputation."[32]

There are totally 100 tertiary institutions on the annual list, the top 50 of which are shown as follows:

Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings — Top 50
2014[33] 2013[34] 2012[35] 2011[36] Institute Region
1 1 1 1 Harvard University  United States
2 2 2 2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology  United States
3 6 4 5 Stanford University  United States
4 3 3 3 University of Cambridge  United Kingdom
5 4 6 6 University of Oxford  United Kingdom
6 5 5 4 University of California, Berkeley  United States
7 7 7 7 Princeton University  United States
8 10 10 9 Yale University  United States
9 11 11 10 California Institute of Technology  United States
10 8 9 12 University of California, Los Angeles  United States
11 9 8 8 University of Tokyo  Japan
12 13 15 23 Columbia University  United States
13 14 13 11 Imperial College London  United Kingdom
14 14 14 15 University of Chicago  United States
15 12 12 13 University of Michigan  United States
16 20 22 24 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich   Switzerland
17 17 16 16 Cornell University  United States
18 19 18 14 Johns Hopkins University  United States
19 23 20 18 Kyoto University  Japan
20 16 16 17 University of Toronto  Canada
21 22 23 27 National University of Singapore  Singapore
22 18 19 22 University of Pennsylvania  United States
23 24 23 21 University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign  United States
24 25 29 37 London School of Economics and Political Science  United Kingdom
25 20 21 19 University College London  United Kingdom
26 41 51-60 51-60 Seoul National University  South Korea
27 29 34 51-60 New York University  United States
28 30 27 -- University of Wisconsin-Madison  United States
29 26 37 28 Carnegie Mellon University  United States
30 31 33 36 Duke University  United States
31 27 28 26 University of Washington  United States
32 40 31 34 University of California, San Francisco  United States
33 31 25 31 University of British Columbia  Canada
33 31 25 29 McGill University  Canada
33 27 32 31 University of Texas at Austin  United States
36 35 30 35 Tsinghua University  China
37 37 35 40 Northwestern University  United States
38 38 41 39 Georgia Institute of Technology  United States
39 51-60 51-60 61-70 Pennsylvania State University  United States
40 34 36 30 University of California, San Diego  United States
41 45 38 43 Peking University  China
42 51-60 51-60 49 Delft University of Technology  Netherlands
43 36 39 42 The University of Hong Kong  Hong Kong
43 61-70 61-70 61-70 King's College London  United Kingdom
43 39 43 45 University of Melbourne  Australia
46 46 49 45 University of Edinburgh  United Kingdom
46 44 42 48 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München  Germany
48 50 47 47 Purdue University  United States
49 51-60 61-70 71-80 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne   Switzerland
50 51-60 51-60 50 Osaka University  Japan

Regional rankings[edit]

Asia University Rankings[edit]

In April 2013, Times Higher Education released its first university rankings dedicated to the Asian higher education sector. However, unlike the QS Asian University Rankings whose methodologies are different from the QS World University Rankings, the Times Asia University Rankings use exactly the same criteria as its World University Rankings.

The Asia University Rankings judge world class universities across all of their core missions - teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook, and provide the positions of top 100 Asian tertiary institutes.[37]

Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings — Top 50
2013 Institute Region
1 University of Tokyo  Japan
2 National University of Singapore  Singapore
3 The University of Hong Kong  Hong Kong
4 Peking University  China
5 Pohang University of Science and Technology  South Korea
6 Tsinghua University  China
7 Kyoto University  Japan
8 Seoul National University  South Korea
9 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology  Hong Kong
10 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology  South Korea
11 Nanyang Technological University  Singapore
12 Chinese University of Hong Kong  Hong Kong
13 Tokyo Institute of Technology  Japan
14 National Taiwan University  Taiwan
15 Hebrew University of Jerusalem  Israel
15 Tohoku University  Japan
17 Osaka University  Japan
18 Tel Aviv University  Israel
19 City University of Hong Kong  Hong Kong
20 Yonsei University  South Korea
21 Technion Israel Institute of Technology  Israel
22 Middle East Technical University  Turkey
23 Sungkyunkwan University  South Korea
24 Fudan University  China
25 University of Science and Technology of China  China
26 Nagoya University  Japan
27 National Tsing Hua University  Taiwan
28 Bilkent University  Turkey
28 Korea University  South Korea
30 Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur  India
31 Koç University  Turkey
32 National Chiao Tung University  Taiwan
33 Hong Kong Polytechnic University  Hong Kong
33 Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay  India
35 Nanjing University  China
36 Tokyo Metropolitan University  Japan
37 Boğaziçi University  Turkey
38 Istanbul Technical University  Turkey
39 Tokyo Medical and Dental University  Japan
40 Shanghai Jiao Tong University  China
41 Renmin University of China  China
42 Sharif University of Technology  Iran
42 University of Tsukuba  Japan
44 Hokkaido University  Japan
45 Zhejiang University  China
46 National Sun Yat-Sen University  Taiwan
47 National Cheng Kung University  Taiwan
48 Kyushu University  Japan
49 King Abdulaziz University  Saudi Arabia
50 Hong Kong Baptist University  Hong Kong

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ariel Zirulnick. "New world university ranking puts Harvard back on top". The Christian Science Monitor. 
  2. ^ "We're fighting above our weight when it comes to uni rankings". The Australian. 
  3. ^ Indira Samarasekera and Carl Amrhein. "Top schools don't always get top marks". The Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on 2010-10-03. 
  4. ^ Wildavsky, Ben (2010). The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities are Reshaping the World. Princeton University Press. 
  5. ^ Baty, Phil. "New data partner for World University Rankings". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  6. ^ Mroz, Ann. "Leader: Only the best for the best". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  7. ^ Baty, Phil (10 September 2010). "Views: Ranking Confession". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  8. ^ 17 February 2010 12:00AM (17 February 2010). "Back to square one on the rankings front". The Australian. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  9. ^ Baty, Phil. "THE World Rankings set for release on 16 September". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Indira Samarasekera and Carl Amrhein. "Top schools don't always get top marks". The Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on 2010-10-03. 
  11. ^ Simon Beck and Adrian Morrow (16 September 2010). "Canada's universities make the grade globally". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2011-02-13. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Robust, transparent and sophisticated" (16 September 2010). Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
  13. ^ Baty, Phil. "THE unveils broad, rigorous new rankings methodology". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Phil Baty, "World University Rankings launch date revealed" (5 September 2011). Times Higher Education.
  15. ^ Phil Baty. "The top 200 – and the best of the rest" (13 September 2011), Times Higher Education.
  16. ^ THE Global Rankings: Change for the better. Times Higher Education (2011-10-06). Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  17. ^ "GLOBAL: Crucial to measure teaching in rankings". Universityworldnews.com. 2010-11-28. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  18. ^ Baty, Phil (2011-08-16). "Arts on an equal footing". Timeshighereducation.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  19. ^ Andrew Trounson, "Science bias will affect local rankings" (9 June 2010). The Australian.
  20. ^ Steve Smith (16 September 2010). "Pride before the fall?". Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 
  21. ^ "Global path for the best of British," (16 September 2010). Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
  22. ^ "Global university rankings and their impact," (2011). "European University Association"
  23. ^ http://www.cwts.nl/TvR/documents/AvR-Language-Scientometrics.pdf
  24. ^ "Changingpublication patterns in the Social Sciences and Humanities 2000-2009". 
  25. ^ "THE World University Rankings (2013-2014)". 
  26. ^ "THE World University Rankings (2012-2013)". 
  27. ^ "THE World University Rankings (2011-2012)". 
  28. ^ "THE World University Rankings (2010-2011)". 
  29. ^ "TIMES Higher Education University Rankings by subjects (2013/14)". 
  30. ^ "Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 universities". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  31. ^ John Morgan. "Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings". Times Higher Education. 
  32. ^ Scott Jaschik. "Global Comparisons". Inside Higher Ed. 
  33. ^ "THE World Reputation Rankings (2014)". 
  34. ^ "THE World Reputation Rankings (2013)". 
  35. ^ "THE World Reputation Rankings (2012)". 
  36. ^ "THE World Reputation Rankings (2011)". 
  37. ^ Phil Baty. "Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings". Times Higher Education. 

External links[edit]