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QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021

The QS in partnership with Elsevier has launched the world university rankings by subjects in 2021 earlier this month.  

1 440 universities across 85 locations, covering 51 subjects in total were included in this year’s QS subject ranking. Among all these, top subjects are still dominated by Western research universities, notably Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Oxford and the University of Toronto.

While the West still dominates top places, Russian universities now have a record number of top 20 appearances and Chinese universities have a record number of top-50 positions across the entire subject rankings. Also, two subjects are topped by Singapore. However, it is also evident that Japanese universities are continuing to decline in QS ranking performance. Australian universities have also slipped compared to the previous year. It must be kept in mind, however, that   the drop in ranking position from one year to another may not be a reflection of actual performance but changes in the measuring sticks.

Relatively speaking, continental European universities are not as highly visible on the subject rankings nor QS' promotion of the new ranking results. However, even with this limited visibility, it is clear that France excels in Business and management, with INSEAD ranking 1st and HEC Paris school of Management ranking 9th. France also excels in Politics, with Sciences Po in Paris ranking 2nd. The Netherlands is also found to excel in communication and media studies, with University of Amsterdam coming 1st. Also, The Netherlands stands out in hospitality and leisure management with Hotel School the Hague placing 5th.   

Looking at the published methodology, the rankings by subject were largely based on QS’s global reputation surveys of academics and employers. The other two indicators assess research impact, based on research citations per paper and h-index in the relevant subject sourced from Elsevier’s Scopus database. The weighting of the indicators varies. Given as an example, research citations and the h-index account for 25% of each university’s total score. In areas with much lower publication rates such as history, research-related indicators only account for 15% of the total ranking score. In subjects such as art and design, where the number of papers published is statistically insignificant, the ranking is based solely on the employer and academic surveys – thus the reputation of the subjects. 

The QS World University Rankings by subject can be found here.