UK universities just about hold on to their position as the toast of Europe but are facing strong competition from Swiss and Asian rivals, according to world league tables published this week.
The QS World Universities 2015/16 rankings, looked upon as one of the most authoritative of its kind, saw Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) retain its top spot in the global league table for the fourth year running, with Harvard rising up from 4th to 2nd and overtaking Cambridge University, which sits joint third with Stanford.
Imperial College London, which was placed joint second last year, slipped to eighth, while Oxford University and University College London also fell in the ranking.
Switzerland’s ETH Zurich enters the top 10 for the first time this year, while its sister institute, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), is not far behind, climbing three places to 14th.
The top ranked in France is the École Normale Supérieure (ENS Paris), in 23rd place. In Ireland, there was a further dip, with Trinity College Dublin down from 71st to 78th, and University College Dublin from 139th to 154th.
China’s top ranked institution, Tsinghua University, climbs 22 places to rank 25th, while the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology gains 12 positions to 28th. The National University of Singapore jumped 26 places, from 39th to 13th.
After the US, UK, Switzerland and Singapore, the highest entry is claimed by Australia, with the Australian National University in joint 19th.
A university's strengths in research, teaching, academic reputation, staff to student ratio and the number of international staff and students all influence the rankings.
Before this year, QS rankings rewarded institutions strong in research, meaning those with medical faculties could always expect top billing, but this year’s rankings adopted a modified methodology, so as to provide “fairer evaluations for universities with a strong profile in areas with lower research activity, such as arts, humanities and social sciences”.
“These latest results reveal more diversity than ever in the distribution of world-class universities at the highest levels,” said QS head of research Ben Sowter. One noticeable beneficiary was the London School of Economics and Political Science, which climbed from 71 to 35.
A total of 82 countries are represented in the table, with the largest shares claimed by the US (154), UK (71), Germany (43) and France (41). Japan has 38 entries, Australia 33, China 30, Canada and Italy 26 apiece, Brazil 22 and Russia 21.
London is the only city in the world with four universities in the top 50; Boston and New York have three, and Paris, Sydney, Hong Kong and Beijing all have two.
Inaugural Reuters ranking
In another league table published this week, all but one university in the top ten - the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology - hails from the US. Stanford edges MIT into second place, with Harvard University third, in the inaugural ‘Top 100 Most Innovative Universities’, compiled by Reuters.
In this ranking, which is based on journal publishing and patents data, Imperial College London is the highest-ranked European university, in 11th place, followed by Belgium's KU Leuven (16), Cambridge University (25), EPFL (27) and Oxford University (40).
As seen also in QS, the Reuters ranking reflects strong competition from Asian rivals. South Korea has eight schools in the top 100 universities, while Japan has nine, more than any other country apart from the US. China has only one entry on the list, Tsinghua University, ranked 72nd, almost 50 places lower than its QS ranking.
Controlling for size, Switzerland, with a population of eight million people, is the stand-out performer, with three universities on the list.
Reuters claims that the use of publishing and patenting data, “gets to the essence of what it means to be truly innovative”. The institutions in the table most reliably produce original research, create useful technology, and have the greatest economic impact, making them, “the surest bets for anyone seeking to invest in and create real innovation.”
Ranking is based on 10 patent and research-related metrics, including the volume and impact of scientific research, the volume and success of patent filings and the use of cited discoveries in the academic and corporate worlds.
Unlike QS, which compiles additional tables for five faculty areas – arts and humanities, engineering and technology, life sciences and medicine, natural sciences, and social sciences and management – Reuters only collected data on a university-wide scale. This means that while “a small liberal arts school might rank low for overall innovation, [it could] still operate one of the most innovative computer science departments in the world.”The other main global ranking tables for universities are the Times Higher Education World University Ranking, which is due next month, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities, better known as the Shanghai rankings.
Reuters Top 100: http://www.reuters.com/most-innovative-universities.
The Reuters Top 100: The World’s Most Innovative Universities1 Stanford University
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3 Harvard University
4 University of Washington
5 University of Michigan System
6 Northwestern University
7 University of Texas System
8 University of Wisconsin System
9 University of Pennsylvania
10 Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST)
11 Imperial College London
12 Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH)
13 University of California System
14 University of Southern California
15 University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
16 KU Leuven
17 Duke University
18 Osaka University
19 Johns Hopkins University
20 California Institute of Technology
21 University of Illinois System
22 Kyoto University
23 Georgia Institute of Technology
24 University of Tokyo
25 University of Cambridge
26 Princeton University
27 Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
28 University of Colorado System
29 Ohio State University
30 University of Pittsburgh
31 Seoul National University
32 Purdue University System
33 Cornell University
34 Tufts University
34 Vanderbilt University
36 Yonsei University
37 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
38 University of Toronto
39 Tohoku University
40 University of Oxford
41 University of Utah
42 University of Minnesota System
43 Technical University of Denmark
44 Yale University
45 Columbia University
46 Oregon Health & Science University
47 Baylor College of Medicine
48 Emory University
49 Indiana University System
50 Technical University of Munich
51 Tokyo Institute of Technology
52 University of Erlangen Nuremberg
53 University of Zurich
54 University System of Maryland
55 University of Arizona
56 Carnegie Mellon University
57 University of Massachusetts System
58 Keio University
59 Boston University
60 University of Rochester
61 University of Munich
62 Hanyang University
63 Florida State University System
64 Pierre & Marie Curie University - Paris 6
65 Ghent University
66 Sungkyunkwan University
67 University of British Columbia
68 North Carolina State University
69 University of London
70 Penn State University
71 University of Chicago
72 Tsinghua University
73 Delft University of Technology
74 University of Virginia
75 Tel Aviv University
76 Technion Israel Institute of Technology
77 University of Freiburg
78 Wake Forest University
79 University of Paris Sud - Paris XI
80 University of Paris Descartes - Paris V
81 Kyushu University
82 Case Western Reserve University
83 University of Alabama System
84 Joseph Fourier University
84 Korea University
86 Arizona State University
86 Gwangju Institute of Science & Technology
88 University of Strasbourg
89 Nagoya University
90 University of Claude Bernard - Lyon 1
91 Rutgers State University
92 Erasmus University Rotterdam
93 State University of New York (SUNY) System
94 National University of Singapore
95 University of Manchester
96 Free University of Berlin
97 University of Aix-Marseille
98 Hokkaido University
99 University of Montpellier
100 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology