In many respects, the THE's World University Ranking offers 'more of the same' of what we have witnessed in its 14-year history. The US still lead with the largest number of universities in the top 100 (62). Britain is second, with 31 universities in this segment. But for the first time in the history of the ranking, the top two universities are from the UK: Oxford, followed by Cambridge. With Imperial College number 8 this time around, the UK has three universities in the top 10.
The first continental European University is the Swiss Federal Technical Institute in Zürich (ETH), ranked on place 10 together with the University of Pennsylvania. This is a drop of one place, but ETH has consistently been continental Europe's number 1 in many years. Germany's higher education institutions come third in the top 200, with 20 in this group. The top two German institutions are Bavarian (Munich-based, to be precise), with Heidelberg following suit. But this is, of course, comparing apples and pears. We are talking of countries with large populations and many universities. In comparison, Canada's six in the top 200 might actually indicate a bigger achievement. And, what is more, single universities in many countries have seen a roller-coaster history. That will continue, because small differences often create considerable rises or drops.
While the Western world is, by and large, still holding its weight, Asia continues to rise. Asia has now three universities in the top 30. First, on rank 22, the National University of Singapore, a still rising, but already long-known 'suspect'. Peking University is now on place 27 and Tsinghua University on rank thirty. As one observer on the Times Higher Ed puts it, Asia is closing in.
What does all that tell us? Less than many of us think. This ranking came out so late in September that ACA would like to follow up with a more in-depth analysis in its October newsletter
. Together with the results of the parallel exercise of QS, which also features with a short ad-hoc piece in this present newsletter. It will be interesting to compare both. Times Higher Ed and QS were once in the same bed, but they separated a few years ago.