Arab University Rankings: FAQs

We answer your questions about the Times Higher Education Arab University Rankings

May 24, 2022
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Editor’s note: This story was last updated in May 2024.

The Times Higher Education Arab University Rankings 2023 reveal the strength of higher education across the Arab region. The methodology is based on the same framework as our World University Rankings, but some adjustments have been made and some new metrics have been included to reflect the features and missions of universities in the Middle East and North Africa. These changes have been in made in consultation with the Arab advisory board

We have received a very positive response to the Arab University Rankings from across the Arab region. This is in part evidenced by a 44 per cent increase in participation compared with last year. AUR 2023 included 207 ranked universities, with a further 106 universities classified as reporters. 

The reputation survey

To enhance our understanding of reputation, we conducted an Arab region-specific survey last year, which yielded more than 35,000 votes; this provided us with a far more accurate picture of university reputation across the Arab region than our global survey.

This invitation-only survey is being repeated this year to a wider group of published academics based in the Arab region; the email invitations to participate in the survey will be sent from 28 May 2024. The email will come from “” with the subject line “تصنيف مجلة تايمز للتعليم العالي العربي 2024 / Times Higher Education Arab Ranking 2024”. We have requested that IT departments whitelist our IP address to ensure we maximise the response.

Why a ranking for Arab universities?

Within our World University Rankings, Arab universities are improving their underlying scores across a range of metrics compared with the rest of the world, particularly in the areas of citation impact and reputation. However, this improvement is not always visible when exploring the World University Rankings because of the growth of the ranking.

We believe that it is important that Arab universities are able to understand their performance and strengths in an objective way within the structure of universities across the Arab region using measurements based solely on those universities. 

Although the World and Impact rankings are a great source of insight into the progress of universities across the Middle East, several factors make the region worthy of further exploration. As well as the unique cultural heritage, there are also many more universities in the process of growing their research capabilities and their visibility within the world of higher education. These institutions are reflecting the desires of their governments and citizens as their nations develop – so it is important that we reflect this in the data we explore.

How is this ranking different?

Measuring research strength 

For this ranking, we have switched from the traditional calculation of Field Weighted Citation Impact, which looks at the average FWCI of publications associated with a university, to one that uses the 75th percentile. We believe that this gives a more stable measure over time and prevents the distorting effect of a few papers with very high numbers of citations.

It has also allowed us to move away from the issues caused by kilo-author papers (publications that have more than 1,000 authors).

We have also been able to remove the country normalisation approach, which was designed to compensate for issues caused by publication of non-English-language papers. Because all the universities in the Arab ranking are from non-English countries, we believe that this is unnecessary.

Two new citation measures have been introduced in 2023. Our research excellence metric recognises an institution’s contribution to the best research in each subject and overall. Excellence is measured by capturing the total number of publications by an institution that are among the top 10 per cent of publications worldwide by FWCI. We adjust this number by year, subject and the total number of academic and research staff. 

Finally, research influence examines the influence of an institution’s publications by analysing their corresponding citations. The importance of a publication is determined based on the importance of other papers citing it. We adjust this number by year, subject and the total number of academic and research staff. 

These three metrics help to show us how much each university is contributing to the sum of human knowledge: they tell us whose research has stood out, has been picked up and built on by other scholars and, most importantly, has been shared around the global scholarly community to expand the boundaries of our understanding, irrespective of discipline. 

Other significant changes

The participation criteria for this ranking are less strict than those for the World University Rankings. Universities must publish at least 500 publications over a five-year period to be included in the Arab ranking (down from 1,000 for the World University Rankings). This reflects the growing nature of higher education in the region.

We have also permitted postgraduate-only institutions to participate in the Arab ranking.

There are also three Arab-specific metrics, although these all have relatively low weightings. Because of the strong focus on sustainability in the region we have included two measures based on participation and performance in the THE Impact Rankings. We have also looked separately at research collaboration among universities in the Arab world.

The third edition of the rankings introduces significant updates to the original methodology, in line with the changes made to the World University Rankings methodology last year. These improvements ensure that the rankings continue to reflect the outputs of the diverse range of research-intensive universities across the world, now and in the future.  

We have moved from 16 to 20 carefully calibrated performance indicators. Two of the metrics (study abroad and patents) currently have zero weight but might be considered in future. The performance indicators are still grouped into five areas, but some of the names have been updated. 

Some changes to institutions' scores will be influenced by these methodological changes and we would advise noting that when making comparisons with previous year's results. 

Read the Arab University Rankings 2023 methodology 

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