28 Sep 2010

It seems that various world university rankings have been in the news a lot recently. There are the QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the World's Best Universities from US News and World Report. These are contentious but they do stimulate discussion and debate and they do matter - even if only because of what people make of them. They are also of interest to many RSA members since that's where many of us conduct our research.

Who is number 1? Well, QS has Cambridge (UK) on top, Times Higher Education has Harvard (US) on top and US News also has Cambridge on top.

What is the first non-US/UK institution on any of the lists? It's ETH Zurich (Switzerland) which ranks 18 on QS, 15 on THE and 19 on US News. So, there's obviously some bias given the global language of academia. The Regional Studies Association does, of course, have close connections with - and many members at - the top global universities, but that's not the topic here!

The top Chinese university on the list? Check out their English language website. The National University of Singapore? Number 31 on QS, number 34 on THE and number 31 on US News. You could literally spend hours looking at all of this. What you'll probably do first is look for your own institution and if it's sufficiently highly placed you'll comment on how robust the ranking methodology is. If your university is not there, you can just as easily critique the ranking methods! Either way, it makes interesting reading.