World University Rankings blog: time to submit your data

If you want to join our exciting global project, get in touch, says Phil Baty

January 18, 2016
Metrics and data

The portal is open. We’ve started collecting data for the 2016-17 Times Higher Education World University Rankings – and it is our most ambitious and inclusive exercise to date.

Last year, THE’s data team, in partnership with the global higher education sector, collected comprehensive institutional data from 1,126 universities from 88 countries, gathering more than 100,000 separate data points. Added to about 400,000 data points collected through our annual Academic Reputation Survey and an analysis of more than 50 million citations to 11.3 million research papers, we were able to build our biggest and best global rankings to date.

But this year we want to do even more.

The database we are now building will not only fuel the 2016-17 THE World University Rankings (and remember, we can not rank any institution that does not submit data through our portal), it will also allow for a much deeper series of analyses.

The database will provide the information we need for the 2017 BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings, which will be published at a summit in Johannesburg from 30 November to 2 December 2016. It will also power the THE 100 Under 50 Rankings for 2017, the Asia Rankings as well as new rankings for Latin America, the Middle East and elsewhere. We also plan to develop new metrics to capture a wider range of institutional missions and priorities, for example in knowledge transfer and teaching, and develop special data-led reports on different aspects of global higher education.

So we are seeking partnership with an ever-increasing range, and number, of institutions.

Only universities that published more than 1,000 research papers (in journals indexed by Scopus) between 2011 and 2015, and which also teach at the undergraduate level, are eligible for inclusion in the next World University Rankings. And such institutions will be prioritised for data collection as the world rankings continue to be dominated by indicators of research excellence.

But we want to be more inclusive. As we extend and deepen our rankings and analyses, more and more institutions can be included. This will allow us, over time, to recognise a wider range of activities and missions. After all, there is no single model of excellence in higher education and one of the great strengths of our sector is its sheer diversity. THE wants to celebrate that.

Changes for 2016-17

We are aware that we impose a significant burden on institutions when we request data each year, and we are very conscious of the ever-increasing demands from external bodies. So we have worked hard this year to keep the burden to an absolute minimum. The data collection portal design has been streamlined, we’ve removed requests for some data points, and we’ve added new tools to help smooth the process – for example, providing warning signals when we detect a possible submission error.

We are delighted that institutions across the world recognise the benefits of taking part – voluntarily – in this exciting exercise, and we appreciate the cooperative approach that has been established. Our full-time team of data editors are on hand to help with any institutions’ submission.


From this week, existing data partners should look out for an email from “Times Higher Education” with the subject line: “Times Higher Education World University Rankings – Data Collection Portal Now Open”.

If you are expecting the email, but do not receive it, please email

And if you want to join our exciting global project, even if you do not meet the criteria to join the World University Rankings, get in touch too. Email and help us to build the biggest and most comprehensive database of university performance information in the world.

Phil Baty is editor, Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

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