General information on ranking

Name of the ranking THE World Reputation Rankings
Geographical scope Global
Name of person in charge of ranking Phil Baty
E-mail of person in charge of ranking
Website of the ranking
Publication frequency annual
First year of publication 2011
Most recent year of publication 2020
Date of last update 2021-08-26
Ranking organization Times Higher Education
Website of the methodology

The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings are created using the world’s largest invitation-only academic opinion survey – a unique piece of research. The Academic Reputation Survey, available in 14 languages, uses United Nations data as a guide to ensure that the response coverage is as representative of world scholarship as possible. It is also evenly spread across academic disciplines.

The questionnaire, which is administered on behalf of THE by Elsevier, targets only experienced, published scholars, who offer their views on excellence in research and teaching within their disciplines and at institutions with which they are familiar. The 2020 rankings are based on a survey carried out between November 2019 and February 2020, which received a total of 11,004 responses from 132 countries.

The best represented subject was engineering (accounting for 16.9 per cent of responses), followed by physical sciences (15.2 per cent). Also well represented were life sciences (11.5 per cent), clinical and health (11 per cent), business and economics (10.6 per cent), arts and humanities (10.4 per cent) and social sciences (9.9 per cent). The rest of the responses came from computer science (7.3 per cent), education (2.9 per cent), psychology (2.8 per cent) and law (1.5 per cent). However, to ensure the ranking is representative of the global distribution of scholars, THE’s data team rebalanced the weights to a fixed benchmark. These were as follows: physical sciences (14.6 per cent), clinical and health (14.5 per cent), life sciences (13.4 per cent), business and economics (13.1 per cent), engineering (12.7 per cent), arts and humanities (12.5 per cent), social sciences (8.9 per cent), computer science (4.2 per cent), education (2.6 per cent), psychology (2.6 per cent) and law (0.9 per cent).

A  fair distribution of survey responses across the regions has been maintained. A total of 39 per cent of responses hail from the Asia-Pacific region. The rest of the responses break down as follows: western Europe accounted for 24 per cent, North America for 19 per cent, eastern Europe for 10 per cent, Latin America for 5 per cent, Africa for 2 per cent and the Middle East for 1 per cent. Where countries were over- or under-represented, THE’s data team weighted the responses to more closely reflect the actual geographical distribution of scholars based on UN data.

In the survey, scholars are questioned at the level of their specific subject discipline. They are not asked to create a ranking themselves or to list a large range of institutions, but to name no more than 15 universities that they believe are the best in each category (research and teaching), based on their own experience.

The reputation table ranks institutions according to an overall measure of their esteem that combines data on their reputation for research and teaching. The two scores are combined at a ratio of 2:1, giving more weight to research because our expert advisers have suggested that there is greater confidence in respondents’ ability to make accurate judgements about research quality.

The scores are based on the number of times that an institution is cited by respondents as being the best in their field. The number one institution, Harvard University, was the one selected most often. The scores for all other institutions in the table are expressed as a percentage of Harvard’s, which is set at 100. For example, the University of Oxford received  74 per cent of the number of nominations that Harvard gained, giving it a score of  74 against Harvard’s 100. This scoring system, which differs from that used in the THE World University Rankings, is intended to give a clearer and more meaningful perspective on the reputation data in isolation.

Additional information

  • Type of publication: internet, print - magazine, newspaper
  • Internet users access to ranking: open access
  • Language of publication: English
  • Main target groups: higher education institutions, policymakers, governments and funding agencies, students and parents
  • Level of comparison: institutional
  • Major dimensions covered: reputation
  • Structure of presentation: ordinary presentation (league tables)
  • Data sources: survey conducted exclusively by ranking organization
  • Quality assurance of ranking: certification (e.g. IREG Audit)
  • Website of the ranking organization:
  • Types of the ranking organization: commercial/for-profit (incl. media)
  • Types of rankings: global-sub