Spain's universities are the latest in Europe to come to terms with league tables aimed at helping students make more informed choices.
Excellence: Quality in Spanish Universities, by Jesus de Miguel of Barcelona University, is based on 71 indicators that draw on official statistics.
However, the ranking was criticised by institutions lower down the list. A representative from Catalonia Polytechnic (35th) said: "Quality can only be measured in relation to each institution's own objectives." But the universities of Barcelona and Madrid, first and second respectively, felt that the method used "was not prejudicial to anyone".
Dr Miguel found the negative response to his report unsurprising: "The same happened 30 years ago in other countries. There has been very little evaluation in Spain until now," he said.
The rankings, with the availability of new grants, are thought unlikely to alter Spain's tradition of limited student mobility. Leonardo Sanchez, a specialist on university reform, said most students "just want to stay at home".