This ranking is all about dynamism. The list itself is, by definition, dynamic: it includes only institutions that are aged 50 or younger. So each year, universities are excluded for no reason other than the fact that they have reached the ripe old age of 51. This year we say goodbye to three members of last year’s top 10: University of California, Irvine and its UC sister, Santa Cruz, as well as the University of Warwick, all founded in 1965. Even younger upstarts take their place.
We make no apology for this rather ruthless guillotine. This ranking is forever looking forward. Now in its fifth year, it was designed to celebrate the achievements of young institutions that have made a big impact on the world stage in years rather than centuries, and to highlight future rising stars, or as economist Andrew Oswald described them: “The likely future Harvards or Berkeleys.”
And while our methodology makes for a dynamic list, dynamism is also an attribute that pervades the young universities included in this ranking.
Once, young universities would complain that they were disadvantaged by global rankings. The average age of a university ranked in the current top 200 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings is 213. The UK’s University of Oxford traces its origins back to 1096 and South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University dates back to 1398 – created in the early years of the Joseon Dynasty to offer prayers to Confucius and promote the study of Confucianism.
Such ancient institutions no doubt have many advantages: they have had time to develop deep networks of loyal and successful alumni; they are part of the fabric of great cities; they have had time to accumulate property and wealth – all contributing to the development of enduring reputations for excellence.
But many of the universities in the 150 Under 50 ranking now see their relative youth as an opportunity.
Brian MacCraith, president of Ireland’s Dublin City University and host of last year’s THE Young Universities Summit, encapsulated the spirit when he wrote: “Young universities are unhampered by tradition and outdated modes of operation. They tend to be agile, dynamic and keen to adopt modern organisational practices.”
This year’s summit host, Jaume Casals, rector of Spain’s Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, writes: “Being young and small has allowed us to be more proactive and flexible in today’s changeable environment.”
Such proactivity and enthusiasm is also reflected in the fact that this year’s ranking goes deeper than ever. Since taking all rankings data collection in-house last year, THE’s data team has been able to engage with a much larger number of universities. So what was previously called the THE 100 Under 50 has now been renamed the THE 150 Under 50 – reflecting the additional 50 institutions in this year’s ranking.
The fact that so many institutions have been willing to share data with THE and subject themselves to close external and public scrutiny suggests a great sense of confidence.
We’re delighted to reflect that confidence in this unique university ranking.
Editor, Times Higher Education World University Rankings
Countries represented in the 150 Under 50 Rankings 2016
Note: Countries with only one institution in the top 150 do not appear in this table