Online university student with tablet

Online Degrees are Flexible and Affordable

Online degrees are extremely popular because of being both flexible and affordable. For many types of degrees, including MBAs and graduate certificate courses, online student numbers are actually greater than the number attending campuses in person. If you work and lack the time to commute to the nearest university to do your degree, going online […]

Best ranked top things

Best Ranked Top Things in the List

You know those top 10 or top 6 or top whatever lists you see that make up articles all over the internet? We thought it might be interesting to grab the results of some and see how they measure up. When someone casually claims that something is the best in class, should you believe them? […]

World (global).

World University Rankings

The consensus world university rankings reveal which are the world’s top 100 universities for 2014. The consensus formula gives equal weighting to the rankings produced by 4 global ranking agencies.The formula is quite simple.For each of 4 worldwide rankings lists (QS, THE, ARWU and Webometrics), a university can score anywhere between 0 (if it is outside the […]

Cloud supported online study.

Best Online Universities

Ranking and rating universities is done differently for online study.University reputation matters less.Teaching quality and use of technology are more important.The best online courses keep students engaged.Stats on teaching ratings and other aspects of course quality have been used to rank online universities. This happens on a country-by-country basis using national survey data. Australian Online University […]


Australian University Rankings

The consensus world university rankings for Australia put the University of Melbourne on top again in 2015.At position 39, Melbourne Uni is one of the world’s top 50 universities.The Australian National University also just makes it into the top 50.Three other Australian universities rank among the world’s top 100 universities.Generally, Australian universities have improved slightly compared […]

Canada flag.

Canada University Rankings

The consensus world university rankings for Canada places 3 universities well into the top 50 in 2014: University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and McGill University.The trio are Canada’s genuinely elite universities.No others make the top 100, though several Canadian universities rank between 101 and 202.

New Zealand flag.

New Zealand University Rankings

The consensus world university rankings show that 6 out of 8 of New Zealand’s universities are in the top 500 in the world in 2014.The rankings indicate NZ universities are of a generally good standard.However, no universities make the top 100.The best ranked university is the University of Auckland, with a consensus ranking of 178.

British (UK) Union Jack flag.

UK University Rankings

UK universities feature prominently in world university rankings for 2014.The UK has 9 universities ranked in the top 100.They include the University of Cambridge at 4 and the University of Oxford at 5.Almost 1 in 10 of the world’s top 500 universities are based in the UK.

Top Universities by Country

Cube has put together the ultimate university rankings list for the countries we cover.

  • Lists from the major ranking publishers have been combined to produce a 'consensus' rankings list.
  • As well as overall world rankings, see the top universities by country or region.

University Rankings Explained

University rankings are lists of universities in order of a measure of quality, performance or size.

The 2 main types of rankings are world research rankings and national composite rankings.

World (Research) Rankings

World university ranking.World university rankings are based on international performance metrics, with the ordering explained by research and reputation.World rankings compare universities using metrics that are consistent from country to country. These metrics include research publications (volume and quality), global reputation survey results, and institutional variables such as university size and the staff-to-student ratio.

We call world rankings 'research rankings' because that is essentially what they measure. It is difficult to compare the teaching performances of universities located in different countries. But research output can be compared by looking at academic journals and web publishing statistics.

Some world rankings claim to measure something much broader than academic research performance. But a close look at the ranking methods (below) show that such claims are stretching the truth.

National (Composite) Rankings

National (UK) university rankings.It should be explained that national university rankings use more data variables, making them composite measures. National rankings compare universities within a region where there is consistent performance data. Typically, comparisons are made nationally using data gathered by federal government agencies or private companies.

For a national ranking of universities, there is a broader set of data available, including survey data on student satisfaction and graduate salaries. National rankings are 'composite' measures that are based on a diverse set of performance metrics.

Cube University Rankings publishes national rankings that depend equally on 3 dimensions of performance/quality: academic reputation, student satisfaction, and graduate pay.

How University Rankings are Calculated

Every ranking is only as good as the data used and calculation method.

Here we explain how some of the more popular rankings are constructed and what exactly they measure.

QS world rankings of universities.QS World University Rankings

The QS world ranking formula has these components:

  • academic reputation (40% - survey opinions of academics)
  • citations per faculty (20% - rate at which research is referred to)
  • staff to student ratio (20% - how many academics per student)
  • employer reputation (10% - survey opinions of employers)
  • international ratios (10% - %'s of staff, students from abroad).

The ranking formula is highly dependent on academic reputation and research output.

  • Half a university's score comes directly from reputation surveys.
  • A further 20% comes from global research presence (citations).
  • There are no performance-based measures of teaching quality.

Times Higher Education world university rankings.Times World University Rankings

The Times Higher Education ranking formula is similar to the QS formula but cut a little differently.

THE has the following major components:

  • academic research & income (70% - citations (30%), reputation (18%))
  • teaching reputation & student ratios (22% - teaching reputation (15%))
  • doctoral program size (8% - doctorates awarded per academic (6%))

The Times ranking is also highly dependent on academic reputation and research output.

There is a 15% weighting on teaching reputation (based on the opinions of academics in other universities).

Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities.Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities

The Shanghai university ranking formula consists of:

  • alumni winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (10%)
  • staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (20%)
  • highly cited researchers in 21 categories (20%)
  • papers published in Nature and Science (20%)
  • papers in Science & Social Science Citation Indexes (20%)
  • per capita average of other indicators (10%)

The Shanghai rankings are objectively based on academic research.

Universities rank highly by producing quality research and employing top calibre researchers.

Cybermetrics Lab publishes Webometrics world university web publishing rankings.Webometrics Web Publishing World University Rankings

Webometrics (published by Cybermetrics Lab) has a composite ranking formula:

  • Impact (50% - number of links to the university's website)
  • Presence (17% - number of web pages published by the university)
  • Openness (17% - number of academic publications on the internet)
  • Excellence (17% - number of internet publications cited often).

As with the Shanghai rankings, the formula gives an objective measure of academic research output.

In this case, the focus is on gross web publishing rather than articles in prestigious journals.

Australian university rankings list.Cube National University Rankings

Cube and its country affiliates produce national university rankings.

University performance is measured in a balanced way across 3 dimensions:

  • Prestige (33% - world ranking and/or admission standards)
  • Ratings (33% - course satisfaction rates among finishing students)
  • Graduate Pay (33% - graduate employment and median salaries).

The formula produces rankings that reflect the value to students from attending a given university. The addition of student ratings and graduate pay (compared to world ranking formulas) boosts the rankings of universities that deliver a good education experience.