American universities and colleges fill many of the top spots in world university rankings for 2014. The 20th best United States’ university, New York University, is ranked 26 the in the world. The USA has more than 50 universities in the global top 100. World university rankings are based on prestige in academic circles and […]
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 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
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 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 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
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.
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.
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.