THE World Reputation Rankings 2018: a register of global resonance

Universities whose names are bywords for quality will stand out amid market noise, writes Phil Baty

May 30, 2018
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Browse the full Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2018 results

When the credit rating agency Moody’s examined the global higher education sector recently, one message stood out above all others.

As competition for increasingly mobile student and academic talent heats up in an “intensifying marketplace”, as developing countries grow in strength and as public scrutiny of the value of higher education increases, universities are going to need a strong brand to distinguish themselves from rivals, said the Moody’s report (soberly titled Global Higher Education Faces a Period of Significant ­Transition).

“Universities with clearly distinct and in demand niches and programmes as well as those with recognised brands will be best poised to compete. Some universities with limited brand recognition or economies of scale will face acute fiscal stress, or even close, in the most severe situations,” the agency said.

The study underlines why the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings have become so crucial as an annual university brand audit, and why the data behind the table have become such an invaluable resource for university leaders. Universities are brands, and their reputations are paramount.

Now in their eighth year, the Reputation Rankings remain unashamedly subjective. The exercise is based purely on the results of THE’s annual Academic Reputation Survey – in which we ask senior, published scholars all across the world which institutions, in their opinion and based on their experience and subject-level knowledge, are doing the very best teaching and conducting the very best research.

Thus the table is underpinned by opinion – but it is the expert opinion of scholars and researchers who have first-hand experience of, up-to-date information about and an intimate familiarity with excellence in the world’s universities – the academics who live and breathe teaching and research.

Subjective as the ranking may be, the data on which it is built are robust. This year’s ranking is based on 10,162 responses, giving us hundreds of thousands of data points on more than 2,500 institutions (see methodology, page 26). The survey is invitation-only, distributed against United Nations data to match the true distribution of scholars around the world, available in 15 different languages and balanced against 11 broad subject areas. This ensures that it is indeed representative of global scholarship.

The data presented here will also form two of the 13 performance indicators that are used to create the THE World University Rankings 2019, which are to be published on 26 September at THE’s World Academic Summit in Singapore.

We are pleased to be able to share these insights into a central, and increasingly vital, aspect of the global higher education landscape. 

Phil Baty is editorial director of global rankings.


Countries/regions represented in the top 100

Country/region    

Number of institutions in World Reputation Rankings 2018

Top institution

Rank

United States

44

Harvard University

1

United Kingdom

9

University of Cambridge

4

China

6

Tsinghua University

14

Germany

6

LMU Munich

49

Japan

5

University of Tokyo

13

Netherlands

5

Delft University of Technology

51–60

Australia

3

University of Melbourne

=47

Canada

3

University of Toronto

=22

France

3

Paris Sciences & Lettres – PSL University

39

Hong Kong

3

University of Hong Kong

40

South Korea

3

Seoul National University

46

Switzerland

3

ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

=22

Russian Federation

2

Lomonosov Moscow State University

=33

Singapore

2

National University of Singapore

24

Sweden

2

Karolinska Institute

61–70

Belgium

1

KU Leuven

51–60

Denmark

1

University of Copenhagen

91–100

Finland

1

University of Helsinki

91–100

India

1

Indian Institute of Science

91–100

Israel

1

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

91–100

Taiwan

1

National Taiwan University

51–60

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