World Reputation Rankings 2016: held in high esteem

More than 10,000 academics' views give unique insight into universities' global reputations

May 4, 2016
Harvard Crimson cheerleader (Harvard University) being held aloft
Source: Getty

View Times Higher Education's full list of the world's most prestigious universities


Like it or not, our world-class universities are global brands. Of course, great universities are far too complex and multifaceted to reduce easily to a simple slogan or a striking logo, and they are in the long-term business of seeking truth and creating knowledge, not the short-term game of selling snake oil.

But the fact remains that they operate in an extremely competitive global market where reputation – and, yes, brand – is everything. A strong reputation is key to attracting philanthropic funding, business investment and, perhaps most importantly of all, it is essential for drawing in top global talent – staff and students alike.

As Ian Pearman, chief executive officer of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, the UK’s largest advertising agency, told Times Higher Education in 2013: “Whenever the target audience of an organisation faces a choice of alternative competitors, branding is incredibly important for justifying price, avoiding commoditisation, attracting and retaining talent and, ultimately, resisting rivals.

“So a properly constructed brand is essential for any university competing in the modern global education market.”


Claim a free copy of the full World Reputation Rankings 2016 digital supplement


This is why the annual Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, now in their sixth edition, have become a major fixture in the higher education calendar – serving as a yearly global academic brand audit and attracting news headlines across the world.

The rankings are entirely subjective – they are based purely on an annual opinion survey. But that does not mean that they are not robust.

The survey is invitation-only, distributed in 15 languages and carefully balanced to be truly representative of global scholarship both in terms of the geographical spread of academics and the subject mix (see the World Reputation Rankings 2016 methodology).

This year, more than 10,000 academics from 133 countries took the time to lend us their expertise and name the very best university departments in their specific field (up to 15 in each category), based on their deep personal knowledge.

Giving their views on institutions both nationally and globally, and on both teaching and research, our respondents have provided us with about 400,000 individual data points on how universities across the world are perceived by peers, country by country, and discipline by discipline.

Since 2011, more than 80,000 survey responses have been gathered. We thank all respondents – once again – for helping us to create this robust, unique and incredibly rich picture of the shifting global higher education landscape.

Phil Baty
Editor, Times Higher Education Rankings
Twitter: @Phil_Baty


Countries represented in the World Reputation Rankings 2016 top 100

Country/region Number of institutions in top 100 Top institution Rank
United States 43 Harvard University 1
United Kingdom 10 University of Cambridge 4
Germany 6 LMU Munich =40
China 5 Tsinghua University 18
France 5 École Normale Supérieure 61-70
Japan 5 University of Tokyo 12
Netherlands 5 Delft University of Technology 51-60
Australia 3 University of Melbourne =49
Canada 3 University of Toronto 23
Hong Kong 3 University of Hong Kong =45
Russian Federation 3 Lomonosov Moscow State University =30
Singapore 2 National University of Singapore 26
South Korea 2 Seoul National University =45
Sweden 2 Karolinska Institute 51-60
Switzerland 2 ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich 19
Belgium 1 KU Leuven 61-70
Brazil 1 University of São Paulo 91-100
Taiwan 1 National Taiwan University 81-90

View the full results of the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2016

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