Monday, November 23, 2009

Announcing GRAPE: Global Ranking of Academic Performance

I am surprised that nobody has thought of doing this before.

There are now six international university ranking systems and five of these, World University Rankings (THE-QS London), Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), International Professional Ranking of Higher Education Institutions (Ecole des Mines de Paris), Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities (Taiwan) and Global Ranking of Universities (Russia), provide a numerical score. I have simply added the scores for all universities that were in the top 30 on any one of these, converting the top score for The Paris and Taiwan rankings into 100. The top scorer in the composite ranking was of course Harvard which was awarded a composite score of 100. The other scores were then adjusted accordingly. Yale, Imperial College London, Northewestern and Waseda were not included in the Russian rankings so they were ranked according to their total score for the other four.

There are some interesting results. The University of Tokyo comes in second, with a good record for recent research and for CEOs of big companies. University College London and Imperial College perform poorly. Oxford and Cambridge are slipping a bit and Australian universities do badly.

Here then are the top 30 with the combined scores.

1. Harvard 100

2. University of Tokyo 79.91

3. MIT 74.05

4. Stanford 71.21

5. Columbia 62.61

6. Cambridge 61.87

7. Caltech 59.81

8. Oxford 59.29

9. University of Pennsylvania 57.65

10. Yale 57.00

11. Johns Hopkins 56.7

12. University of California Berkeley 55.22

13. Chicago 54.87

14. Cornell 53.42

15. Kyoto 53.42

16 . UCLA 53.07

17. Duke 52.66

18. Princeton 51.49

19. University College London 50.46

20. Michigan 49.19

21. Imperial College London 47.74

22. University of Washington Seattle 47.08

23. University of California San Diego 45.60

24. Toronto 45.46

25. Northwestern 46.09

26. University of Wisconsin Madison 42.98

27. Manchester 42.49

28. Edinburgh 42.46

29. McGill 42.41

30. University of Illinois Urbana Champagne 41.69

It is also intersting to look at the correlations between the specific rankings and the combined scores. The correlations (top 30 institutions only) are as follows.

Paris .818
Shanghai .815
Taiwan .773
Russia .652
THE-QS .491

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Readers may have noticed that some of the links on this page are no longer working. One reason for this is that the geocities site where I kept some items has been terminated by Yahoo.

I shall refrain from commenting on the ethics of this other than to say that it is not exactly the way for Yahoo to win friends of any sort.

I have now now started a website where I shall keep items relating to international university rankings such as news, papers, slides and so on.

The address is

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interesting Times

The announced divorce of Times Higher Education and QS looks like the beginning of a new era for international university rankings.

QS have announced that nothing will be changed. According to director Nunzio Quacquarelli, the QS World University Rankings, as they will now be called, will employ the same consistent and credible methodology and will be led by the same team of Quacquarelli, John O'Leary, Martin Ince and Ben Sowter that created the rankings in 2004.

The QS rankings have of course been very far from consistent. There have in fact been several significant changes since 2004. But the change of name may prove to be even more significant Many people, especially in the US and Southeast Asia are unaware that these rankings are not produced by THE and some actually are under the impression that they come from "the Times of London", a name sufficient in itself to guarantee the highest quality. Without the magic name will the QS rankings have the same impact?

Meanwhile, THE will have problems of its own. if they are only going to assess citations and publications using data from Thomson Reuters, they will end up producing a clone of the Shanghai rankings. If they try to be more adventurous they will run into the problem of time. Spending a few months waiting for advice from their editorial board (composed of university administrators?) and reading comments from readers could mean that they will not be able to produce a ranking in time. It might be a clever ploy for QS to bring their rankings forward by a month or two causing another problem for THE.

And what about the US News and World Report? They have their own arrangement with QS that will apparently remain unchanged. But will red-blooded Americans really go on accepting data, not from "the Times of London" but from a consulting firm that keeps getting North Carolina universities mixed up?


Friday, November 06, 2009

News from Shanghai

The latest edition of the Academic Ranking of World Universities published by Shanghai Jiaotong University contains few changes at the top. In the top 20 the only change is that Johns Hopkins and Tokyo swap the 19th and 20th places.

Further down is another matter.

I have counted six institutions that have fallen out of the top 500. They are:

University of Akron
University of Idaho
University of Tennessee Health Center
Medical College of Georgia
University of Maine at Orono
Mississipi State University

Sad news about Idaho, alma mater of Sarah Palin. No doubt this will be further ammunition for those who want to crow about the intellectual superiority of Joe Biden.

The American universities have been replaced by:

Universite Victor Segalen II Bordeaux, France
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Pompeu Fabra University, Spain
University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
University of Tehran, Iran
Kyungpook University, Korea

The trend is clear. The US, except perhaps for the West coast, is declining. The Mediterranean, Southwest Asia and the Pacific Rim are rising.

The recent conference in Shanghai highlighted the rise of King Saud University, largely accomplished by the recruitment of highly cited researchers, which was pretty much the strategy underlying the dramatic ascent of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the University of Tehran, who showed a massive improvement in the number of publications in 2008.