World Reputation Rankings 2021: scholars’ voting patterns by discipline

Humanities academics in Asia are more likely to vote for international universities than their science peers, but the trend differs by region

October 27, 2021
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Our World Reputation Rankings data have previously revealed contrasts in the perception of institutions’ subject strengths inside and outside the country in which they are based and other vastly different voting patterns by region, with Asian universities receiving the majority of votes from academics based within their own country (in contrast to institutions in Europe and, to a lesser extent, North America).

But do academics in different disciplines have different voting patterns when it comes to choosing local or global institutions? And do those trends differ depending on where scholars themselves are based?

These Sankey diagrams reveal the share of domestic and international votes across seven broad subject areas and three different regions: Asia, Europe and North America. The size of the bars on the left are proportional to the number of votes from scholars in those disciplines, while the subjects are ordered by the percentage of votes going to an international university (highest to lowest).

Specialist preferences

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Asian academics tend to cast more votes for universities outside the country in which they are based. This is the case for all subjects, but it is especially true for scholars in the humanities and social sciences, while those in the sciences give a high number of votes to domestic institutions. This may reflect the relative strength of STEM fields – particularly physical sciences and engineering – within Asia.

European academics also cast more international than domestic votes across all subjects and, as with Asia, scholars in the arts and humanities have the highest share of global votes. However, there is not such a clear arts versus sciences divide, with social sciences scholars more likely to vote domestically than those in engineering and technology, for instance.

In North America, the overall trend is the reverse, with more US and Canadian academics voting domestically than internationally. There are significant differences by discipline too. Scholars in the physical sciences and engineering and technology are most likely to vote for international universities, which may reflect the strength of STEM in other regions. Meanwhile, business and economics scholars are least likely to vote for an institution outside their country, which may be due to the high number of renowned business schools in the US and Canada.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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