World University Rankings 2016-2017: Standing still is not an option

A long association with world rankings does not stop Times Higher Education from fine-tuning its approach, says Phil Baty

September 21, 2016
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Browse the full list of the world's top-ranked universities in 2016-2017

Across five decades, Times Higher Education has been supporting excellence. In 1971, the first edition of what was then a weekly supplement of The Times newspaper was published. We have been providing the news, commentary and, increasingly, the data and analysis to help universities better understand their position in the world, and improve their performance, ever since.

In 2004, our ability to support the higher education community advanced when we became one of the world’s first organisations to publish a global university ranking. We pioneered ways to understand the world of higher education with new global performance metrics.

In 2010, our world rankings were dramatically enhanced when, after almost a year of open consultation with the global community, we delivered a much more comprehensive version of the THE World University Rankings. We employed for the first time our current balanced range of 13 performance indicators, introducing new metrics for teaching and knowledge transfer in addition to research excellence.

But we did not stand still. Perhaps the most significant step forward came last year, with the publication of the first THE World University Rankings with all the core institutional and reputational data gathered and managed in-house by THE’s team of data experts.

Investing in data science enabled THE to take its mission to support excellence in higher education to a new level. We can now be more accountable to the universities we rank, and more responsive to their needs with bespoke analytical tools, and we can provide all of the parties involved in our work with deeper, richer and more extensive rankings.

Claim a free copy of the World University Rankings 2016-2017 digital supplement

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-17 – our 13th annual publication – lists 980 institutions from 79 countries. Last year, we ranked 801 universities from 70 countries, up from only 400 universities in 2014. This year, we were able to draw on a database with tens of thousands of data points on 1,313 of the world’s leading research-intensive universities, compared with the previous year’s total of 1,128 institutions.

This year, we can draw on more than 20,000 responses to our annual academic reputation surveys – 10,323 responses, from 133 countries, to the 2016 survey combined with the 10,507 from last year. This year, through our partner Elsevier, we are also able to examine 56 million citations to 11.9 million publications published over the five years to 2015. Last year, we examined 51 million citations from 11.3 million publications.

Although the overall rankings methodology is the same as last year – we have further enhanced the analysis this time by including books among the research outputs we evaluate, in addition to journal articles, reviews and conference proceedings. Some 528,000 books and book chapters are included for the first time, giving a richer picture of the global research environment.

This year, in another pioneering move, our calculations have been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

By refusing to stand still, THE is determined to continue its mission to support excellence in higher education and research for the next five decades and beyond.

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

Countries represented in World University Rankings 2016-2017 top 200

Country/region     Number of institutions in top 200 Top institution Rank
United States 63 California Institute of Technology 2
United Kingdom 32 University of Oxford 1
Germany 22 LMU Munich =30
Netherlands 13 Delft University of Technology 59
Canada 8 University of Toronto 22
Australia 8 University of Melbourne =33
Switzerland 7 ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich 9
Sweden 6 Karolinska Institute 28
Hong Kong 5 University of Hong Kong =43
China 4 Peking University 29
France 4 École Normale Supérieure 66
South Korea 4 Seoul National University =72
Denmark 3 Aarhus University =98
Belgium 3 KU Leuven 40
Spain 2 Autonomous University of Barcelona 163
Japan 2 University of Tokyo 39
Italy 2 Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa =137
South Africa 2 University of Cape Town 148
Singapore 2 National University of Singapore 24
Russian Federation 1 Lomonosov Moscow State University =188
Taiwan 1 National Taiwan University =195
Norway 1 University of Oslo 132
Luxembourg 1 University of Luxembourg 178
Israel 1 Hebrew University of Jerusalem =186
Austria 1 University of Vienna =161
Finland 1 University of Helsinki 91
New Zealand 1 University of Auckland =165

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