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

April 16, 2018
A map of the world with an eye in the centre
Source: iStock

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 builds 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: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

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 education.

The overall THE World University Rankings, featuring 1,000 institutions, 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 rankings against any one of five key areas of performance, to suit user preferences.

Each university in the rankings has a detailed profile, with a breakdown of its overall score and supplementary data designed to help students. For example, there are data on the staff-to-student ratio at each university, the total income per student, the proportion of international students and the gender breakdown of students.

Some universities have enhanced profiles, to showcase their student offer, and their individual strengths and qualities beyond the rankings data. To raise your university’s global profile with Times Higher Education, please contact branding@timeshighereducation.com

You can read more about why THE’s methodology is trusted by students and watch our 90-second 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, providing student-focused news and advice, and featuring a wide range of student blogs with invaluable first-person advice and tips.

The rankings are also widely used by faculty to inform career decisions, by university leaders to help set strategic priorities and 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 2018 top 1,000 list, THE’s data team drew on a comprehensive and growing database containing hundreds of thousands of data points on more than 1,500 leading global research universities, and employed a global Academic Reputation Survey of more than 20,000 leading scholars, who provided us with their expert views on the world’s leading universities.

In addition, we also analysed 60 million citations to more than 12.4 million academic journal articles (from Elsevier’s Scopus database) published over a five-year period between 2012 and 2016.

The top 10 universities in the world 2018

As well as the flagship THE 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. Our major rankings are:

  • Emerging Economies Rankings
    The THE 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.
    Click to read analysis of the 2018 results
  • 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.
    Click to read analysis of the 2018 results
  • Young University Rankings
    The THE Young University Rankings cover the world’s top 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 Young University Rankings 2017 methodology has been changed to reflect the special characteristics of younger universities, giving less weight to subjective indicators of academic reputation.
    Click to read analysis of the 2017 results
  • 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. 
    Click to read analysis of the latest results, and watch a top 10 results video
  • Latin America Rankings
    In calculating the top universities in Latin America, the THE Latin America University Rankings 2017 use the same 13 performance indicators as the THE World University Rankings, but they are rebalanced to take into consideration the qualities of the region’s institutions. 
    Click to read analysis of the latest results
  • US College Rankings
    The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings give students and their families the information they need to help them choose where to study. Uniquely, it has at its heart the voices of more than 200,000 current American college students, collected through Times Higher Education’s annual US Student Survey. The rankings of more than 1,000 US schools, colleges and universities are made up of 15 individual performance indicators designed to answer the questions that matter the most to students and their families.
    Click to read analysis of the latest results
  • Japan University Rankings
    The student-focused rankings is modelled on the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings. The THE Japan University Rankings use a balanced scorecard approach, with 13 individual performance indicators combining to create an overall score that reflects the broad strength of an institution. The overall methodology explores four key areas, which we call pillars: resources, engagement, outcomes and environment.
    Click to read analysis of the latest rankings

We also publish a series of smaller rankings, including a hierarchy of the best universities in the Arab World and Asia-Pacific regions.

For the latest rankings-related news, follow us on Twitter @THEworldunirank and register with us to sign up for our newsletters. Join our community of global higher education leaders at one of our summits for the exclusive launch of the latest THE ranking for that region.

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