16 August 2017
The latest edition of the Academic Ranking of World Universities was published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. These rankings have used the same indicators since they began in 2003. There are six metrics: alumni winning Nobel prizes and Fields medals (10% weighting), researchers winning these awards (20%), publications in the Science Citation Index and the Social Science Citation Index over the past year (20%), publications in Nature and Science over five years (20%), the number of faculty on the Clarivate Analytics highly cited researchers list (20%), and productivity per capita measured by the sum of the scores for these indicators divided by the total of academic staff (10%).
The Shanghai rankings have a reputation for stability but recently they have become somewhat more volatile, particularly with regard to the highly cited researchers indicator.
There was little change at the top this year. Harvard remained in first place followed by Stanford. Cambridge, however, was able to rise past Berkeley and MIT into third place
Further down the table there were significant changes. Some Canadian universities continued to improve. The University of British Columbia rose from 34th place to 31st and the University of Toronto from 27th to 23rd although McGill University fell four places
Asian universities continued to make progress with Tsinghua University and Nanyang University rising. But Peking University and Seoul National University have slipped a little.
An interesting addition to the rankings this year is the publication of a list of “candidates”, universities ranked between 501 and 800. There are 55 of these from China, 55 from the USA, 19 from Japan, 21 from Italy 16 from South Korea, and 15 from Spain.
The distribution of world class universities is very lop-sided with large numbers located in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region while there are several populous countries, such as Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Kenya, with no representation even in the expanded list of 800.
The top ten universities are:
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- University of Cambridge
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- University of California Berkeley
- Princeton University
- University of Oxford
- Columbia University
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
- University of Chicago.