Monday, June 25, 2012

Productive Universities

QS has been analysing university research output using Scopus data. The world's most productive university measured by the number of papers is Toronto. The top ten contain Harvard and five more US institutions, University College London, Sao Paulo and Tokyo.

Harvard is first for total citations and Rockefeller, a specialist medical school, for citations per paper.

It seems that the presence or absence of a medical school makes a lot of difference to performance measures based on total publications or citations. In general, there are substantial differences between disciplines with medicine and the humanities at opposite ends of the spectrum. The performance of schools like Toronto may to some extent reflect their balance of discipline.

Times Higher and Thomson Reuters would say that the answer to this problem lies in normalisation. But that raises another questions, namely whether all disciplines can be considered equal.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Boring is Good

QS have produced the second instalment of their "Latin University Rankings" (i.e. Latin American University rankings). This time there have been few changes. The top seven are the same as last year. According to QS, "the familiar look of the top ten in 2012 QS University Rankings: Latin America is evidence that last year’s inaugural exercise provided a fair and accurate overview of the current hierarchy of the region’s universities".

True, but does that mean that other rankings were invalidated by noticeable instability?

Here are the top ten:

1.  Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil
2.  Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
3.  Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil
4.  Universidad de Chile
5.  Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
6.  Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia
7. Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico
8. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
9. Universidad de Concepcion, Chile 
10. Universidad de Santiago de Chile

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Complete University Guide

David Jobbins has drawn my attention to the online British  Complete University Guide. This includes the 2013 League Table with the top five being:

1.  Cambridge
2.. LSE
3.  Oxford
4.  Imperial College
5.  Durham

At the bottom we have Southampton Solent, West of Scotland, London Metropolitan, East London and Bolton.

The criteria are entry standards, student satisfaction, research assessment and graduate prospects.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A little bit of sex but not too much, we're British university students

Student Beans has published a British university sex league, which consists of the results of a survey of the number of sex partners since starting university. At the top is Bangor University with an average of 8.31, followed by Heriot-Watt and Plymouth. This is probably a result of savage cuts which have curtailed library hours and left students with nothing else to do.

At the bottom are Roehampton (1.83), Chester (1,71) and Exeter (1.15). There seems no obvious explanation for such a broad variation. Comparing scores with those in the QS rankings produced only a trivial and insignificant correlation.

The methodology does not look very sound: there is no sign of any proper sampling or precautions against multiple responses.

The most sexually active students are in economics, social work, marketing and leisure. No surprises there. The least are in education (that's a relief), earth sciences, theology and, valiantly trying to slow the pace of global warming, environmental science.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Uses of Rankings

The Indian Universities Grants Commission has laid down new regulations "to ensure academic collaboration between Indian and foreign educational institutes follows the highest standards".

The foreign institutions allowed to collaborate with Indian universities and colleges "must figure in list of top 500 global educational institutes, as ranked by the Times Higher Education Rankings or the Shanghai Rankings".

This sounds a little odd. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings only have 400 universities listed on their iphone app. Perhaps they will provide the Indian authorities with the remaining 100.

Another problem is that the Shanghai and THE rankings, especially the latter are not totally stable. So what happens if a university enters the top 500 before a contract is signed and then slips out the year after?

Friday, June 01, 2012

The THE New University Rankings

Times Higher Education have produced their ranking of 100 universities founded in the last fifty years. Here are the top ten:

1. Pohang University of Science and Technology
2. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
3. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
4. University of California, Irvine
5. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
6. Université Pierre et Marie Curie
7. University of California, Santa Cruz
8. University of York
9. Lancaster University
10. University of East Anglia

The list looks rather different from the QS new university ranking published two days ago. That is unsurprising since the QS table is heavily weighted towards two reputation surveys while the THE rankings are influences by various measures of income and by normalised citations.