The numbers are in. Times Higher Education’s data team has gathered hundreds of thousands of data points from more than 1,500 institutions across the world. We have assessed responses from more than 20,000 academics to our annual academic reputation surveys, and worked with colleagues at Elsevier to examine 62 million citations to 12.4 million research publications.
After all this, we are now getting ready to publish the biggest and most comprehensive Times Higher Education World University Rankings ever.
I’m delighted to confirm that the 2018 World University Rankings – to be published online at 2pm (BST) on Tuesday 5 September 2017 and launched formally at the THE World Academic Summit in London – will feature 1,000 institutions for the first time. This is up from just 400 institutions ranked when THE first took the data collection and analysis for the rankings in-house in 2015. The rankings will feature institutions from 77 different countries, with (spoiler alert!) increased representation for emerging powerhouses such as China and South Korea among other nations.
We actually have the data to rank more than 1,100 institutions, and we will display these additional institutions with a performance summary on our website. However, we have committed to restricting the official THE World University Rankings to an elite top 1,000, as we focus our data and methodology on similarly minded, research-active and globally focused institutions – rather than all the 20,000 or so higher education institutions across the world.
Don't worry though, we are also producing a range of other analyses and rankings, which will focus on teaching, and will include institutions with different missions – including the first ever THE European Teaching Excellence Rankings.
We have now settled on the THE top 1,000. This important milestone in the 13-year history of the THE World University Rankings, first published in 2004, has been made possible by the hard work of our growing team of data scientists, analysts and editors; the long-term investment in data and analytics by THE, backed by award-winning journalism; and of course, by the active engagement and cooperation of all institutions in our expanding database.
We cannot develop the rankings and analyses we do without institutions signing up to our data collection system and investing the time and resources to share data in accordance with THE’s unique global data definitions. So we thank all institutions that engaged with the process this year for their commitment and support for our exciting global project. We are confident that the payback, through all the insights brought about by the rankings and the related analyses and benchmarking tools, is clear to all of our university partners.
We also recognise the great weight placed on the rankings results. Tens of millions of students and their families, as well as academics and university leaders, view the results on our website and tens of millions more see the data through thousands of media reports and social media shares. The rankings not only inform students’ choice of university and academics’ career decisions, but they also shape institutional strategy and national government higher education policies in many countries.
So I’m pleased to also confirm that the rankings will be audited, as they were last year, by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In the interests of full transparency, THE is unique in opening its rankings to truly independent scrutiny. The rankings’ methodological description, the data capture and data-handling process, and the calculation of the rankings themselves are all being signed off by PwC.
We are proud to be the producers and publishers of the most comprehensive and the most trusted global rankings. I hope to see you at the launch in London on 5 September.
Phil Baty is editorial director, global rankings, at Times Higher Education.