Top US technology universities lose ground in computer science and engineering

The University of Oxford now leads Times Higher Education’s two technology-focused subject rankings

November 29, 2018
Electrical engineering

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THE World University Rankings 2019 by subject: computer science
THE World University Rankings 2019 by subject: engineering and technology

The University of Oxford has become the first UK institution to top Times Higher Education’s computer science and engineering and technology subject rankings.

Oxford overtook three prestigious US universities renowned for their strength in technology to take pole position in the two tables. In the computer science ranking it outperformed Stanford University, which fell two places to third, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which dropped three places to fifth.

Meanwhile, in engineering and technology, Oxford achieved a higher overall score than Stanford, which dropped one place to second, and the California Institute of Technology, which fell two places to fourth.

Oxford is not the only European success story at the top of the computer science ranking; ETH Zurich rose two places to second, while the University of Cambridge climbed one place to fourth. However, in the engineering table, Cambridge dropped one place to sixth, while ETH remained at ninth. 

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- Best universities for engineering and technology degrees
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Oxford improved its scores for teaching environment and industry income in both tables, and saw a boost in its scores for research environment and international outlook in the engineering and technology ranking.

In contrast, both Stanford and Caltech received lower scores for research environment in the engineering table while Stanford and MIT received lower scores for teaching environment, research environment and industry income in the computer science list.

This year, THE made a small adjustment to the eligibility criterion for academic staff in the subject tables, which explains why there are some highly ranked new entrants in the lists. For example, Harvard University has joined the engineering table in third place.

- World University Rankings 2019 by subject: computer science methodology
- World University Rankings 2019 by subject: engineering and technology methodology

THE’s 11 subject rankings have each been expanded this year. The computer science ranking now includes 684 universities, up from 301 last year, while the engineering and technology ranking includes 903 institutions, up from 501.

The subject rankings are based on the same range of 13 performance indicators used in the overall THE World University Rankings 2019, but the methodologies have been recalibrated to suit the individual fields.

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Reader's comments (3)

About those “international outlook” scores¹ — 66%% of MIT students are from the US and 34% are from outside it.² Let’s say MIT and UCambridge had an equal “ability to attract [students] from all over the planet.”³ The UK is 6 times smaller than the US, so just 66% ÷ 6 = 11% of UCambridge students would be from the UK. And 89% would be from outside it. In reality 37% are from outside it, not 89%. So UCambridge must be 89% ÷ 37% = 2.4× worse than MIT at attracting students “from all over the planet.” Question: Do you instead rate UCambridge as 37% ÷ 34% = 1.1× better? 1. See Baker, “A Closer Look.” 2. Rankings table. 3. See “Methodology.”
Hi James, if that were what we were trying to measure then I'd agree with you. But we aren't really looking at attractiveness (which is what you're suggesting) but the degree to which a university has an environment with people from multiple backgrounds. Why not attractiveness? 1) we deal with this (to a degree) in the reputation measures 2) we would need to look at applications, not current numbers The issue of correcting for country size is, however, an important one, and not straightforward! I hope to look at this as part of the discussions around the next generation of ranking methodology.
Oxford improved its scores for showing condition and industry pay in the two tables and saw a lift in its scores for research condition and global standpoint in the designing and innovation positioning. Conversely, both Stanford and Caltech got lower scores for research condition in the designing table while Stanford and MIT got lower scores for showing condition, explore condition and industry salary in the software engineering list. This year, THE made a little change in accordance with the qualification rule for scholastic staff in the subject tables, which clarifies why there are some profoundly positioned new participants in the rundowns. For instance, Harvard University has joined the designing table in the third spot.

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