Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The solution

On the whole, I find rankings of universities, especially if these are done by a Chinese institution, somewhat dubious. What categories do you use? Research? In which subjects? Undergraduate teaching? How do you compare the very different systems that exist in Britain (in universities that do actually teach), the United States, European countries and, say, China? All very dubious.

So I was a little underwhelmed by the news in EUObserver that 27 European univesities (not just EU ones and they count Russia as European) have made it into the top 100 as judged by the Institute of Higher Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities has been going on since 2003 and
The US academic journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education says that the ARWU "is considered the most influential international ranking."
That has nothing to do with the fact that Harvard has been ranked as the highest in the world and the US, in general, has claimed 54 out of 100 places.

The following list is some indication of a certain randomness in the ranking:
The top 10 overall

1. Harvard

2. University of California, Berkeley

3. Stanford University

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

5. University of Cambridge

6. California Institute of Technology

7. Princeton University

8. Columbia University

9. University of Chicago

10. University of Oxford

EU and European rankings

5. University of Cambridge (UK)

10. University of Oxford (UK)

21. University College London (UK)

23. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (Switzerland)*

26. Imperial College London (UK)

39. Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6) (France)

40. University of Copenhagen (Denmark)

42. Karolinska Institute (Sweden)

44. University of Manchester (UK)

45. University of Paris Sud (Paris 11) (France)

50. University of Utrecht (Netherlands)

51. University of Zurich (Switzerland)*

52. University of Munich (Germany)

54. University of Edinburgh (UK)

63. King's College, London (UK)

66. University of Bristol (UK) (tie)

66. University of Uppsala (Sweden) (tie)

70. University of Leiden (Netherlands)

71. Ecole Normale Superieure - Paris (France)

72. University of Helsinki (Finland)

74. Moscow State University (Russia)*

75. University of Oslo (Norway)*

79. University of Stockholm (Sweden)

86. University of Basel (Switzerland)*

88. University of Sheffield (UK)

90. University of Ghent (Belgium)

93. University of Bonn (Germany) (tie)

93. University of Goettingen (Germany) (tie)

98. University of Aarhus (Denmark)

99. University of Birmingham (UK)
Clearly, the EU is not happy, as we find out from Les Echos. From 2011 it will produce its own ranking of world universities based on its own philosophy and funded by the European Commission to the tune of €1 million. Anyone would like to have a little bet as to how many American universities will make it to the top 100?


  1. Does this mean anything more than a dog show? How do you compare a BullDog to a Chihuahua for best in show?
    It does seem that our rulers in the US, now, have attended top schools,but are nonetheless,perfectly worthless.
    Thanks for the list though,since we do need to be entertained.

  2. You may have gathered from my comments, Renminbi, that I agree with you. I am looking forward to the EU list, though. Aren't you?