Monday, March 20, 2017

The ten smartest university rankings in the world (or lists if you want to be pedantic)

Paul Greatrix at Wonk HE has just published a list of the ten dumbest rankings in the world. Some I would agree with but the choice of others seems a little odd. He objects to U-Multirank because it is expensive which is unfair when you consider the money that universities are spending on summits, consultancies, audits, ranking task forces and the like. I personally find the Webometrics methodology comprehensible although I admit that I am still not sure about exactly what a bad practice is.

Anyway, the dumbest rankings list should be supplemented with a list of the smartest rankings. Criteria for inclusion are innovative and imaginative methodology, inclusion of formerly marginalised institutions, groups or individuals, cutting edge insights, or significant social utility. They are not in order since they are all, like all rankings and all US liberal arts colleges, unique, some of them extremely so.


  • The Campus Squirrel Listings. "The quality of an institution of higher learning can often be determined by the size, health and behavior of the squirrel population on campus." Top of the charts with five acorns are Kansas State University, Rice University, Ursinus College, Lehigh University, Susquehanna University, and the US Naval Academy.
  • The Fortunate 500 University Rankings by the Higher School of Economics Moscow uses a brilliantly sophisticated methodology that is unbiased by exam results, teaching or research. Linkoping University in Sweden is number one.
  • Ben Sowter of QS has said that his favourite ranking is GreenMetrics because it is the only one in which his alma mater, the University of Nottingham, is top. Similarly, I am very fond of the Research Ranking of African Universities (sorry, dead link) in which my former employer, Umar ibn El-Kanemi College of Education, Science and Technology, Nigeria,  is ranked 988th.
  • The Times Higher Education World University Rankings and spin offs have  done wonderful work over the years in identifying unsuspected pockets of excellence. Last year they had Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge equal to Oxford for research impact measured by citations and well ahead of that other place in Cambridge.
  • This tradition is continued in the 2017 Asian Universities Rankings which has discovered  that Veltech University is the third best university in India and the best in Asia for  research impact.
  • Princeton review's Stone Cold Sober Universities (staying off alcohol and drugs) is very predictable. Brigham Young University in Utah is always first and the higher rankings are filled with service academies and Christian schools. As long as the Air Force Academy stays in the top ten the world can sleep safely.
  • Three years ago Huffington Post published a list of the coldest colleges in the USA. Number one was not the university of Alaska but Minnesota State University.
  • There does not seem to be a formal ranking of universities that produce comedians but if there was then Cambridge, whose graduates include John Cleese, Peter Cook and Richard Ayoade, would surely be at the top. Oxford would obviously be the best for producing dancers.





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