Since world university rankings first began in 2004, Harvard University in the US has always been ranked number one. Not anymore. New top university rankings were just released by QS, the UK-based company that ranks world universities and this year, for the first time, Harvard University got bumped to the second spot by top British school University of Cambridge’s move to the number one spot. Every other school in the top ten too, was either a UK university or a US university, with the closest university in any other country at number 18 – ETH Zurich in Switzerland.
Other UK schools also in the top 10 with the University of Cambridge include University College London at number four, University of Oxford at number six and Imperial College London in seventh place. Other US universities in the top 10 world universities are Yale University, MIT, University of Chicago, CalTech, and Princeton University. Overall, the UK does well, particularly for its size as, although its less than one fiftieth the size of the US in land size and has only 20% of the US population, it still has 30 universities in the top 200, compared to the United States’ fifty three.
Asia too is beginning to have some universities seeing leaps up the list of the world’s top 200 universities. The University of Hong Kong has moved up one place from last year to number 23, the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University are at number 24 and 25 and the National University of Singapore is at number 31.
All in all, Asian universities are doing well and gaining ground quickly on many western universities. In the top 200 universities on the QS list, there are six universities from China, five from South Korea, two Singaporean schools, two from Taiwan, three more from Hong Kong, one from Thailand, and 10 in Japan. Most of the rest are from other European countries, including France, the Netherlands and Germany.
The way QS ranks their top 200 world universities though is interesting. Instead of coming up with their own ratings for each university, they’re based on surveys from academics (40%) and employers (10%), then the rest of the ranking information comes from the number of students per faculty member (20%) (UK universities often employ 1 on 1 student-faculty ratios), number of international staff and students working for or accepted at each university (5%), and how many citations faculty members of each university receive in published works not their own.
According to QS, one of the big reasons Harvard lost its number one spot is because of it hiring less international faculty as well as a higher student to faculty ratio. Much of the reason for this is US universities cutting costs and having less money available for international faculty, as well as needing to have more students per faculty member. This has caused several US universities to fall in their places on the list this year, including Yale, Chicago and CalTech.
Cambridge, on the other hand, even though it saw much less government money due to the recession, still managed to carve out the number one spot for itself by keeping student faculty ratios low and still hiring its normal number of international faculty members – a coup that’s even more admirable for the University of Cambridge indeed.
QS Top 200 World Universities 2010
Cambridge strikes back – QS