Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

A decade of QS Worlds University Rankings

It’s that time again: The annual QS Worlds University Rankings were published on 10 September for the tenth time since the first QS rankings in 2004. Although the rankings’ results are rarely a surprise, QS has managed to make a name for itself far known beyond the higher education sector given the broad media coverage its rankings attract.

So what has changed in comparison to the last results in 2012 (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2012)? Not much, one might be inclined to say. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) managed to stay at the rankings’ top followed by Harvard University which pushed aside Cambridge University on the third rank. Noteworthy – Stanford made it back into the top ten. After having fallen from rank six to 19 in 2007, it has since then struggled to make it back to the top. Yet, this year, the top ten list consists of eleven universities with the California Institute of Technology and Princeton University scoring equal points.

As usual, UK and US universities dominate the rankings with four and seven universities in the top ‘11’ and 29 and 51 universities respectively among the 200 highest scored universities. Europe, without the UK, scores decently well with 62 universities among the top 200. ETH Zürich improves its position within the top 20 as the best Continental European university on rank 12. The best represented European universities among the top 200 are Germany (13), the Netherlands (11), Switzerland (7), Belgium (6), and France (5).

East-Asian universities did – similar to last year – reasonably well with National University of Singapore ahead as best Asian university (24), leaving Hong Kong University behind as the Asian runner-up (26). Japan remains the best represented nation with nine universities in the QS Worlds Rankings followed by China (7), South Korea (6), Hong Kong (5), Taiwan (2), and Singapore (2). In other parts of geographic Asia only Israel managed to enter the top 200 with three universities. Latin America is represented by Brazil’s University of São Paulo on rank 127 and Chile’s Pontifical Catholic University on rank 166. Africa remains underrepresented with South Africa’s University of Cape Town on rank 145.

Although the QS Worlds University Rankings have been criticised for their strong emphasis on peer review and a lack of allegedly sufficient robust methodology – one reason for the split from Times Higher Education in 2010 which since then publishes its own rankings in early October – they remain one of the most observed university rankings in the world.  

QS World University Rankings 2013