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Everything you need to know about Times Higher Education’s portfolio of university rankings

January 22, 2016
Sun rising over Earth

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, founded in 2004, provide the definitive list of the world’s best universities.

Our carefully balanced and comprehensive methodology was developed after more than a decade of working in consultation with the world’s leading universities, and build on our team’s deep understanding of what makes a university truly world class.

Our team of data experts evaluates world-class universities against 13 separate performance indicators, covering the full range of a top university’s essential areas of activity: research; interaction with business; international outlook; and, uniquely, the teaching environment.

THE’s rich data has become a vital study advice resource for students, helping them to make one of the most important decisions of their lives – who to trust with their higher education.

The overall THE World University Rankings are accompanied by a series of subject-specific rankings to help students determine where to study:

All the rankings tables can be filtered by country and can be personalised to create a new ranking against any one of five key areas of performance, to suit user preferences.

Each university in the rankings also has a detailed profile, with a breakdown of its overall score and supplementary data designed to help students. There are data on the staff-to-student ratio at each university, the total income per student, and the proportion of international students and the gender breakdown of students. Some universities have chosen to provide enhanced profiles in the rankings, to showcase their student offer, and their individual strengths and qualities beyond the rankings data.

You can read more about why THE’s methodology is trusted by students and watch our three-minute student guide to the rankings methodology below.



To help students get the most out of the World University Rankings, we have a dedicated student section on our website, providing student-focused news and advice and featuring a wide range of student blogs. Our student blogs give invaluable first-person advice and tips to prospective students.

The rankings are also widely used by faculty to inform career decisions, by university leaders to help set strategic priorities and also by governments to help monitor policy. Why? Because the THE World University Rankings are based on one of the richest databases of university performance in the world.

To create the THE World University Rankings 2015-2016 top 800 list, THE’s data team drew on a database of more than 100,000 data points from 1,200 universities from 88 countries, and employed a global Academic Reputation Survey of 10,500 leading scholars from around the world, who provided us with their expert views on the world’s leading universities – and an additional 400,000 data points on institutions’ academic reputation by country and by subject.

In addition, we also analysed 51 million citations to 11.3 million academic journal articles (from Elsevier’s Scopus database) published over a five-year period between 2010 and 2014.



As well as the flagship World University Rankings, THE has drawn on its rich database to create a series of spin-off rankings, offering deeper insights into a wider range of universities against a wider range of missions, and providing students with even greater resources.

  • BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings
    The THE BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings use the same comprehensive range of 13 performance indicators as the overall World University Rankings, but the indicator weightings have been carefully recalibrated to better suit universities in developing countries. Less weight is given to research excellence, reflecting less mature research systems in many developing nations, and more weight is given to industry links and international outlook.
  • World Reputation Rankings
    The THE World Reputation Rankings employ the world’s largest invitation-only academic opinion survey to provide the definitive list of the top 100 most powerful global university brands. The reputation league table is based on nothing more than subjective judgement – but it is the considered expert judgement of senior, published academics – the people best placed to know the most about excellence in our universities. And reputation is powerful – it is the currency of global higher education, helping universities to attract top-quality staff and funding, and it is the number one consideration for international students when deciding where to study.
  • 150 Under 50 Rankings
    The THE 150 Under 50 Rankings cover the world’s top 150 universities under 50 years old. It provides a glimpse into the future, showcasing not those institutions with centuries of history, but the rising stars that show great potential. The table employs the same 13 separate indicators as the THE World University Rankings, but the 150 Under 50 Rankings 2016 methodology has been carefully recalibrated to reflect the special characteristics of younger universities, giving less weight to subjective indicators of academic reputation.
  • Asia-University Rankings
    The THE Asia-University Rankings are based on the same criteria as the THE World University Rankings. We judge world-class universities across all their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook, but go deeper into the region to provide data on a wider range of institutions. The rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.

The THE World University Rankings include 980 institutions, but students can go beyond the top-ranked 980 and explore other institutions in our “find a university directory”, based in our dedicated student pages. Follow the rankings on Twitter: @THEworldunirank.

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