Edition 219 - July 2019

Rankings update

The month of June saw the release of two university rankings – the 6th edition of the U-Multirank and the 2019 edition of the Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (GRAS). The comparability of results across the two instruments remains however, for multiple methodological reasons, extremely limited. We therefore present the two rankings separately.

On 4 June 2019, the 6th edition of U-Multirank was published, with an emphasis placed on the relationship between “openness” and the quality of higher education in different dimensions. “Open border universities” are characterised by the publishers as having “strong international ties, such as higher rates of foreign students, more international academic staff, higher rates of international doctorate degrees, and more international co-publications”. The U-Multirank consortium highlighted, in particular, A-grade (very good) institutions that excelled in specific openness indicators, such as knowledge transfer (e.g. Telecom ParisTech and Grenoble Ecole de Management) and joint publications with industrial partners (e.g. Luiss Guido Carli in Rome and the Montanuniversität  Leoben in Austria), to name just few.

This year’s edition covers more than 1 700 universities from 96 countries and at 24 national higher education systems, with three new additions – Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine. The multi-rank works by comparing the performance of universities across a range of different activities, grading each of them from ‘A’ (very good) to ‘E’ (weak). This allows users to identify a university’s strengths and weaknesses, on the aspects that most interest them. To guide the users, including students, universities and industries, the ranking provider does provide communication tools and information package to spread the word of the ranking results, including for example, the introduction of an interactive map showing the universities with top overall performance – many located in Europe – this year.

The development of the instrument is co-funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme, the Bertelsmann Foundation and Banco Santander. The EU funding period has been extended from 2017 to 2019. The lead partners of the U-Multirank consortium are: the Centre for Higher Education (CHE); the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS); the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS); and the Fundación CYD. CHE, a higher education think tank based in Germany, has also been collaborating with the German newspaper Die Zeit on the annual publication of the CHE Ranking of German Universities which shares similar features as the U-Multirank. The results of the CHE university ranking 2019 were released in May this year.

Still this June, the Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (GRAS) 2019 was released by the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy, which has been publishing the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) by academic subjects since 2009. The 2019 edition contains rankings of universities in 54 subject areas across Natural Sciences, Engineering, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Social Sciences. In total, over 4 000 universities are ranked. Emphasis is put by the publisher on the top-ranked university per subject area. Harvard University is ranked as the first in 14 of the 54 subject areas, 7 of which are from Social Sciences, 3 from Medical Sciences, 2 from Life Sciences, and 2 from Engineering. MIT tops 5 subjects, 4 of which are in Engineering. Overall, universities from the United States are ranked at the top in 35 subjects, followed by Chinese universities in 11 subject fields.

European Commission

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