There is a definite smell of very sour grapes coming out of Imperial College London with the news that University College London has moved ahead in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings, rising from 26th to 22th. Imperial has fallen from 23rd to 27th, a trivial distance by THES-QS standards. This account is from London Student, an online newspaper.
Jovan Nedic, Editor-in-Chief of Imperial’s student paper Felix, said: “I mean
just look at the [ARWU] website, that alone tells you that this ranking is a
joke. None of the scoring categories are explained and the ones that are obvious
are not the best indication on what university is all about. It calls itself an
academic ranking, so why is a score on Alumni important?”This ranking is nothing
more than a joke and I’m surprised that London Student are even bothering to
look at it.”As to whether the new rankings meant UCL was ‘better‘, he continued:
“Academics and employers alike all recognise the Times one as the standard, only
those results will mean anything to Imperial students, until then, UCL and the
other 21 above Imperial can (in case they don’t get that, I mean all the ones
that are between 6th and 27th) can only dream to be better!”The difference
between criteria used in university rankings is a long-standing bone of
contention. While ARWU gives higher scores to universities whose staff and
students win Nobel Prizes, The Times bases 40 per cent of its scoring on
researchers peer-review - where experts are asked to list institutions they
think are top in their area.
There are a few errors here. The ARWU categories are explained in the methodology section. Not all academics and employers recognise the Times (actually Times Higher Education, not the same thing) as the standard, especially in the USA. It is stretching things a bit to refer to the experts in the THE-QS "peer review". To be a reviewer requires no greater expertise than the ability to sign on to the mailing list of World Scientific, an academic publishing company that has -- this is no doubt completely irrelevant -- an interest in Imperial College Press.