November 08, 2004
A list of the world's top universities

TopUniversitiesS.jpgTimes Online has a list of the top universities in the world, arranged in order of merit, first issued by the Times Higher Educational Supplement. I've copied it to my site so that it won't vanish, and you can read it by clicking on the diminished version here. I found it by clicking the graphic here.

Here is the Times Online piece about it.

Here's how the list was compiled:

Universities were placed in the table with the help of findings from a survey for the THES of 1,300 academics in 88 countries. They were asked to name the best institutions in the fields that they felt knowledgeable about.

The table also included data on the amount of cited research produced by faculty members as an indicator of intellectual vitality, the ratio of faculty to student numbers and a university's success in attracting foreign students and internationally renowned academics in the global market for education. The five factors were weighted and transformed against a scale that gave the top university 1,000 points and ranked everyone else as a proportion of that score.

My first reaction on reading the list was "How real is this?", but that sounds real enough, even if it is weighted slightly towards what people think are the best universities, and they could be out of date, as well as just plain wrong of course. It will be interesting to see how things change, say, during the next five years. That's if they do this again.

This list will feed the frenzy of parents trying to bribe/threaten/cajole/beg/prostitute-themselves etc. for places for their worthy or worthless little darlings. "But Michigan is only thirty-first best!" Blah blah blah.

Here's who won:

Harvard, whose faculty members have won 40 Nobel prizes, emerged as the world's best university by a considerable distance, with second-placed Berkeley rated 120 points behind at 880.2. …

And here's how Oxbridge did:

… Oxford scored 731.8, slightly ahead of Cambridge on 725.4.

Here are the totals in the top fifty, broken down by country: USA 20, UK 8, Australia 6, Canada 3, Switzerland 2, Japan 2, Singapore 2, France 2, Hong Kong 2, China 1, India 1, Germany 1.

What hits me is (a) how large the Anglosphere looms, and (b) how badly continental Europe does. I would have expected Germany in particular to do a lot better. I guess chucking out all your Jews is not smart, higher-education-wise.

My beloved London, with 4 of the UK's 8, did particularly well. Hurrah.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:18 PM
Category: Higher education