The top 200 – and the best of the rest

This year’s rankings will also include a list of the 200 institutions just outside the top 200 – not ranked – but for interest and transparency. Phil Baty reports

September 13, 2011

Let us be clear: the Times Higher Education World University Rankings list only the world’s top 200 research-led global universities.

We stop our annual list at the 200th place for two reasons. First, it helps us to make sure that we compare like with like. Although those ranked have different histories, cultures, structures and sizes, they all share some common characteristics: they recruit from the same global pool of students and staff; they push the boundaries of knowledge with research published in the world’s leading journals; and they teach at both the undergraduate and doctoral level in a research-led environment.

We unashamedly rank only around 1 per cent of the world’s universities – all of a similar type – because we recognise that the sector’s diversity is one of its great strengths, and not every university should aspire to be one of the global research elite.

But we also stop the ranking list at 200 in the interests of fairness. It is clear that the lower down the tables you go, the more the data bunch up and the less meaningful the differentials between institutions become. The difference between the institutions in the 10th and 20th places, for example, is much greater than the difference between number 310 and number 320. In fact, ranking differentials at this level become almost meaningless, which is why we limit it to 200.

However, in response to overwhelming popular demand, and as part of our mission to increase the transparency of rankings, this year we will publish a list of “the best of the rest” – the 200 institutions that fall immediately outside the official top 200, according to our data and methodology.

This 201-400 list will not be ranked, but will be listed alphabetically and we are clear that it does not form part of the official World University Rankings. This avoids making unfair differentials between institutions, but provides valuable, behind-the-scenes insight for the many millions who use our world rankings.

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