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The World University Rankings

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  1. The World University Rankings

  2. Presentation at EPFL • Martin Ince • Contributing editor, THES Crans-Montana, Switzerland 20 March 2006

  3. The THES • Since 1971 • Weekly newspaper formerly associated with The Times [of London] • Group including TES • Online at www.thes.co.uk since 1994

  4. Why rank universities • Interest in ranking things and people • Hospitals • Schools • Local authorities • Rich lists; Britain, world, Asians, footballers • Universities: The Times

  5. National Rankings • The Times • produced by John O’Leary, editor of THES • Institutions as well as subjects Criteria for subjects include: - Teaching quality • Research quality • Entry standards • Employability

  6. National rankings (2) • Criteria for institutions include • Teaching standards • Staff/student ratio • Library spending • Facilities spending • Good degrees • Jobs • Research

  7. The US Comparison • US News and World Report “America’s Best Colleges” • Mainly about how likely you are to graduate • Also student experience eg class size • However, many other tables eg liberal arts, business, engineering colleges • Likewise McLean’s et al

  8. Why world rankings? • Long overdue: higher education has always been very international • Unique position of the THES • Universities becoming more global • Knowledge the real factor in international competitiveness • Increasing desire for comparative information

  9. Why world rankings (2)? • GATS • EU and Bologna • 2 million students outside home country • BTA

  10. In addition • Interest from governments – UK Treasury • EU, Germany • Shanghai

  11. How to do it? • Audience not just possible students • Internationally mobile staff • Internationally mobile money • Focus on: • Teaching • Research • International orientation

  12. Peer review • Peer review is the way academic value is measured • We decided to make it the centrepiece of this ranking • It is the least understood aspect of our work • So here is the explanation

  13. Peer review (2) • We begin by assembling a peer review college of over 1,000 people • Total 2,375 over two years • International spread • Subject spread • Active academics

  14. The question • Online survey • The top universities in the topics they know about • Arts and humanities • Social sciences • Science • Biomedicine • Technology

  15. Plusses • Simple • Hard to cheat • Understandable • Robust • Self-correcting if large enough sample

  16. Minuses • Biases include • Age • Size • Name • Beijing • Loughborough Audience conservatism

  17. Employers • Another group who know about university quality • Innovation in 2005, not perfect • Mainly private sector • At 10 per cent of total • Therefore academics cut from 50 to 40 per cent • Tokyo problem

  18. Quantitative measures • Aim to measure universities in terms of • Student commitment • Research commitment • International commitment

  19. How to do this • Extensive data gathering exercise • Mainly by UK firm QS • Mix of data sources • National • Institutional • Direct contact

  20. First quantitative criterion… • Staff/student ratio • Classic measure of commitment to teaching • Poses some problems and issues • 20 per cent of final score

  21. How international? • Two criteria rated at 5 per cent each • Staff • Students • Again raises issues • Visiting scholars? • EU cross-border students? • Doing full courses? • Geography advantage

  22. Citations • Like peer review • Classic measure of research quality • Use ESI from Thomson • Our consultant Evidence Ltd

  23. Citations (2) • Citations per staff member • Not citations per paper • Well-understood bias • against non-English publication • against arts and humanities • against national-oriented topics This accounts for the final 20 per cent

  24. Comparison with Shanghai Jiao Tong • Not a newspaper • Nobel + Fields prizes • These used twice • Science and Nature • Science and Social Science citations • Theirs is a unique and valuable effort • 500 rather than our 200

  25. What did we find? • Harvard • The US – 54 in top 200 • MIT • Harvard’s lead very large for second year • But that’s only part of the story

  26. Our vindication • The top 200 includes universities in 31 states • US, UK, Australia • Korea, China, Japan • Thailand, Malaysia • Continental Europe • Developing world (1 in 2004, 2 in 2005)

  27. International commitment • US shows up badly • City University of Hong Kong • London School of Economics, SOAS, and EPFL • Yale among few US with international staff • MIT for students

  28. Peer review • Harvard • Oxford and Cambridge • Well-liked universities all over the world • Little evidence of patriotism bias • US, UK, Australia, Japan, China, Singapore dominate the top 20

  29. Employers • Much smaller set, 333 people • QS contacts or via universities • Strongly correlated with peer review • But well-liked universities in many countries • Not strongly correlated with research • Some specialist institutions have zero unemployment

  30. Citations • Medical faculty is a big plus • Or major biomedical income • CalTech the winner, then Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Texas • Big country effect is at work here

  31. Staff/student ratio • Winner Ecole Polytechnique, France • US, French, Swiss, Netherlands etc institutions all well placed • Harvard shows badly here • Asian and European universities well-placed • Weak correlation with research – but not zero

  32. Swiss universities in the 2005 rankings • ETH 21, down 11 from 2004 • EPFL 34, down 2 • Zurich, Geneva 85 and 88 • Basel, Lausanne, St Gallen 127, 133, 150 • Berne 227 • All these big rises

  33. ….in detail Peer review • 173 in the world, down 63, 22/100 100 score was by Harvard Employer review, 174 in the world

  34. Staff and students • QS discovered by direct contact with the university that you have: • 53 per cent international staff • 4 in world, ETH is 3 • 40 per cent international students • 4 in world

  35. Staff/student • Here the ratio is 2.0 • 5 in the world, unusual • Up 123 places • Similar big rise by ETH • First year effect?

  36. Citations • This score 23.7, low by Swiss standards • Big fall • Opposite side of coin from staff/student ratio • 3rd Francophone institution, those also very low on citations

  37. Things that don’t work • Library spending • Course cost • Completion • Entry standards • Wealth • Alumni giving

  38. Response • More work than writing the thing • Last year about 30 newspaper articles in Mexico alone • Interest from media, universities etc across Europe and Asia • Less from the US

  39. Types of response • Who told you that? • Reject the whole idea • Complain about their position • Think it is about right • Wonder how to do better

  40. How to do better • Publish more in the right places • Be more international • Be better represented academically around the world • Have better employer links • Have enough staff to teach your students

  41. The future • Important for individuals • Students • Academics

  42. The future (2) • Important for governments • Ireland, Malaysia, Switzerland… • Important for business • Important globally, eg for the EU

  43. Future developments • New data • Any suggestions? Refine existing data, eg from employers More global reach, eg Africa New analyses New entrants Prizes And most importantly….

  44. The book • Planned for 2006 • 500 institutions including articles on the top group and shorter details on the rest • Data in groups

  45. …really the last slide • Thanks to John O’Leary, editor of The THES Nunzio Quacquarelli, QS Ben Sowter, QS Jonathan Adams, Evidence Ltd and their colleagues