New world university ranking puts Harvard back on top
Harvard snagged the No. 1 spot in a new world university ranking that puts the United States at the head of the pack in higher education excellence.
An international university ranking released last week bumped Harvard University from its No. 1 spot and sent other top US universities tumbling. That fired up speculation about whether the US university system is on the decline.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But Thursday, a different university ranking put Harvard back at the top, followed by four other American universities. One analysis ran the headline: “The US is the best of the best.”
The earlier rankings had 53 US schools in the top 200. Thursday’s ranking had 72.
So how are these rankings decided? Which ranking is better? And which country is better?
Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a British-based higher education consulting firm, produced the earlier rankings. The ones released Thursday were produced by Times Higher Education, the UK's leading higher education news publication, and Thomson Reuters.
Those two, as well as Shanghai Jiao Tong University, produce the most influential international university rankings out there. But don't all use the same criteria – and they weight those they do have in common differently.
Until this year, QS and Times worked in tandem, producing one ranking. Since the split, Times has implied that the QS rankings are overly subjective.
The dominant QS criterion is a university’s reputation, as evaluated by academics. It is weighted at 40 percent. In the Times rankings, a survey of teaching reputation is the closest thing to that QS criterion, and it is weighted at only 15 percent.
Times's measures of research influence, output, revenue, and reputation account collectively for 62.5 percent of the ranking. Classroom factors such as student-faculty ratios, academic awards, and faculty salaries, along with the school's reputation, make up 30 percent. Research income from industry and the international makeup of the faculty and students also factor in slightly.