THE World Reputation Rankings 2018: results announced
The University of Chicago remains in ninth place for the second year but it is joined by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which makes the top 10 for the first time since 2014, after rising four places.
The US still dominates the table with 44 universities, up from 42 last year, although it is worth noting that this year’s table includes 105 universities, four more than last year, as a result of joint scores.
The UK has nine universities, one fewer than last year. Six of these, including all four of its London representatives, have declined.
China and Germany jointly claim the title of the third-most represented nation, with six institutions each. But half of the representatives in each country have fallen down the list.
In the case of Germany, questions have been raised over whether its Excellence Initiative has created meaningful differentiation in its higher education system.
Meanwhile, signs of decline in China, after years of consistent progress, suggest that predictions of the country’s continued higher education rise may have been overstated or premature – although its two most prestigious players, Tsinghua and Peking, have maintained their positions in the top 20.
The top research universities in the US and the UK “earned their reputations over the whole 20th century and beyond and have not slipped in standard, so they are difficult to displace”, he said, whereas universities in South Korea and Singapore “only really showed themselves as strong in the 1990s, and China’s rise is essentially post-2000”.
The World Reputation Rankings are based on an invitation-only opinion survey of senior, published academics, who were asked to name no more than 15 universities that they believed were the best for research and teaching in their field.
World Reputation Rankings 2018: top 10
|Reputation rank 2018||Reputation rank 2017||World rank 2018||University||Country|
|1||1||6||Harvard University||United States|
|2||2||5||MIT (Cambridge, MA)||United States|
|3||3||=3||Stanford University||United States|
|4||=4||2||University of Cambridge||United Kingdom|
|5||=4||1||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|6||6||18||University of California, Berkeley||United States|
|7||7||7||Princeton University||United States|
|8||8||12||Yale University||United States|
|=9||13||15||University of California, Los Angeles||United States|
|=9||9||9||University of Chicago||United States|
Different routes up, similar dangers ahead
Diversity can be an asset that bolsters a university and its reputation, but risks must be minded and managed
The universities at the top of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings have many similar qualities: they produce high-quality, groundbreaking research, deliver innovative education and have strong relationships with their local and global communities.
But one university has a rarer attribute that makes these achievements even more impressive. KU Leuven is the only university in the top 50 of the table with an open admissions system, says its rector Luc Sels.
“In Flanders, we have an open intake system so we cannot refuse students. If students want to come and take a programme in KU Leuven, they are all welcome,” he explains.
“This combination of being very strong in research and at the same time being very democratic and open – and allowing all students to study with us – is a difficult combination, a very challenging one for us, but we are quite proud of what we accomplish in being able to combine those two.”
This democratic quality is extended to the staff, too. Deans and the rector are not appointed but elected by academics. As a result, staff “feel really embedded in the system – they remain loyal to the system” and the university has a “very low degree of voluntary turnover of researchers and professors”, says Sels.