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THE Reputation Rankings 2014: taking stock of higher education ‘currency’

The Times Higher Education (THE) issued its annual reputation rankings in the first days of March, displaying, for the fourth year in a row, the list of 100 universities considered to be the most renowned by a group of over 10 000 selected scholars from 133 countries around the world. 

No changes for Harvard, who maintains the first positions, again followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Stanford has progressed to number three while Cambridge and Oxford have both gone one place down ending as the fourth and fifth, respectively. The remaining five seats in the top 10 belong to the US, making the country the absolute champion, with 8 universities in the top 10 and 46 in the overall list. 

Despite a drop from place 9 to 11 this year, the University of Tokyo is still the highest ranking university from a non-Anglo-American country, followed by ETH Zürich at place 16 and Kyoto University at 19. With 6 universities in the list, which is one more than last year, Germany has seen a steady rise, whereas the opposite trend can be observed for France and Sweden. Two French universities are out of the list, leaving only 2 among top 100 and neither in the top 50, while Karolinska University is the only representative of Sweden since both Lund and Uppsala have dropped out. 

Subjective as these rankings are, given that they are based on an opinion survey only, Phil Baty of THE stresses that “in today’s academy, reputation is the currency”. A university’s status influences not only scholars when choosing positions or universities when looking for partners, but even more so international students when selecting their academic path. According to a 2012 IDP survey, above tuition fees and the programme content itself, ensuring the ‘right academic brand’ for one’s CV appears to be the main driving force to many of those who decide to hit the road to international degrees, in particular to students from Asia. 

THE World Reputation Rankings 2014