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QS University Rankings 2015/2016: Arts and humanities get a fairer share

The 12th edition of the QS World University Rankings, published on 15 September 2015, shook things up with a change in the methodology. Traditionally, institutions strong in medicine and science have fared very well in the QS ranking due to the emphasis of the methodology on research citation rates, which are much higher in life sciences and natural sciences than in the arts and humanities. To ensure a more accurate reflection of universities’ contribution to knowledge in various disciplines, the “citations per faculty” indicator was readjusted this year to create a fairer measure of institutions’ research impact. This adjustment in the methodology has, thus, catapulted the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) from last year’s 71st to the much deserved 35th position this year, reflecting its strength in social sciences. Imperial College London with its nearly exclusive focus on science, engineering and medicine is, on the other hand, one of the institutions bearing the brunt of the change, dropping six slots from the second to the eighth position. 

Apart from the usual minor reshuffling among the top 10 institutions, this year marks a break with the long-time Anglo-American lead in the top 10 – a continental European institution, Switzerland’s ETH Zurich, climbed from the 12th to the 9th position. No change in the top spot however, as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) continues to reign supreme in the QS ranking for the fourth consecutive year, accompanied by Harvard, Cambridge, Stanford and Caltech in the top five this year.

Meanwhile, Singapore shines in this year’s ranking, with the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technical University rising to the 12thand 13th spot from the 22nd and 39th, respectively, while breezing past big-name institutions like Cornell, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania. The top 20 list also stars ETH Zurich’s sister institute, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, in number 15 and the Australian National University in number 19. India has finally made its mark on the top 200 list, as the Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru, a first-timer in the QS ranking, scooped up the 147th rank and the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi rose to the 179th from last year’s 235th position. 

All in all, this edition of the ranking features institutions from 82 countries, with the greatest number of universities located in the US (154), UK (71), Germany (43) and France (43), followed by Japan (38), Australia (33) and China (30).   QS World University Rankings 2015/16  Changes to the QS World University Rankings methodology