THE World University Rankings 2016-2017 passes independent audit

Unprecedented transparency for global rankings sees PricewaterhouseCoopers sign off THE’s methodological process and calculations

September 5, 2016
THE World University Rankings passes independent audit

Times Higher Education has opened up its influential World University Rankings to independent audit by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

In a move unprecedented in the global university rankings field, THE subjected its methodological description, its data capture and handling process and its rankings calculations to a PwC audit.

This week, PwC confirmed that the audit for the forthcoming World University Rankings 2016-2017 had been completed successfully.

Sam Tomlinson, partner, PwC UK, said: “Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2016-2017 will list world-class universities, and showcase their performance across research, teaching, international outlook and knowledge transfer. PwC is delighted to provide rigorous independent assurance over the calculation of these rankings.

“Our audit work included testing the key controls to capture and handle data, and a full reperformance of the calculation of the rankings.”

Watch: Sam Tomlinson on the THE World University Rankings

The THE World University Rankings 2016-2017, to be published on 21 September, use 13 separate performance indicators across the full range of a university’s core activities, and combine a huge number of data points from various sources. 

This year’s rankings will be drawn from a database of more than 150 separate data points on each of 1,313 of the world’s leading research universities, two annual THE Academic Reputation Surveys with a total of more than 20,000 responses providing 250,000 items of data, and an analysis by bibliometric data partner Elsevier of more than 56 million citations to 11.9 million research publications published over five years.

The World University Rankings 2016-2017 will feature 980 universities from 79 countries, displaying a total of 5,880 data points.

Among the audit activities carried out, PwC developed its own digital code to calculate the rankings alongside THE’s own processes and replicated the rankings results independently.

Trevor Barratt, managing director of Times Higher Education, said: “The World University Rankings, now in their 13th annual edition, are trusted the world over. Governments use them to help make policy decisions, university leaders use them to help set strategy, and of course they are widely trusted by students and their families, in their millions, to help them choose where to study.

“But following a major investment in our data team last year, and the decision to bring all the core university rankings data collection and analysis in-house, we felt it was particularly important to subject our team and our processes to clear, independent audit, to ensure accountability to the many university customers of our data and analytical tools, and the many millions who come to our rankings website each year.”

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