We’re Number 36!

The Times Higher Education Supplement has produced a list of the world’s top universities. They must have used a good methodology because UNSW came in at number 36. The United States dominated the list, with 20 out of the top 50 places. I wasn’t quite sure exactly where all the American universities were, so I marked the locations on a map of the United States that I found here. Probably most of my readers already know where they all are, but I thought I’d share the map with you.



  1. #1 Tex
    November 14, 2004

    Actually, anyone who has lived in Austin knows that it is is a blue state that just happens to be located in the middle of a red state.

  2. #2 Carl Jarrett
    November 15, 2004

    A county by county map probably places all of those university into ‘blue’ areas. http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/vote2004/countymap.htm

  3. #3 Purple State
    November 15, 2004

    Duke University usually outranks several of the US institutions that appear on the TLS list. Oddly it has been omitted and it is in a red state. Of course the red-blue dichotomy presents a serious distortion of the actual political geography since it ignores the fraction of votes given to different candidates. Clearly some people enjoy the feeling of superiority obtained by promulgating crude stereotypes and enhancing polarization.

  4. #4 Dano
    November 15, 2004

    Of course the red-blue dichotomy presents a serious distortion of the actual political geography since it ignores the fraction of votes given to different candidates. Clearly some people enjoy the feeling of superiority obtained by promulgating crude stereotypes and enhancing polarization.

    Outstanding imitation of academic polysyllaby, PS.

    Here’s a cartogram of election results by county, to make PS happy:

    Let me know if that’s too much bandwidth, Tim.



  5. #5 ChrisPer
    November 15, 2004

    Congratulations on a well-earned credit for your institution Tim.

    I think your intellectual honesty is a solid contribution to that ranking.

  6. #6 ChrisPer
    November 15, 2004

    Of course, the leftoid point-scoring should get a 100% sweep on the county-by-county red-blue map.

  7. #7 Tim Lambert
    November 15, 2004

    Actually, while Austin is in a blue county, UCSD is in a red one, so it’s still 19:1 on the county map.

    Duke finished just out of the top 50 in the rankings, but you need to subscribe to THES to see the full list.

    No-one should take these rankings too seriously — the results depend on the somewhat arbitrary way the components are weighted. These rankings rather favoured Australian unis — there were points for having more international staff and students, and as a small country we are likely to have more of these.

  8. #8 caerbannog
    November 15, 2004

    It should be noted that UCSD is in a blue part of San Diego County. (The blue part of San Diego County is for the most part confined to the coastal strip west of Interstate-5.)

    Also, liberal write-in candidate Donna Frye is still edging out the incumbent Republican in the San Diego mayoral election (ballots are still being counted as I type this). So there’s lotsa blue in our red San Diego county.

    San Diego County is a place of many contradictions. Near the coast, you have UCSD, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Salk Institute (and some very new-agey places like the Self Realization Fellowship to the north, plus the mini-San-Francisco known as Hillcrest to the south) — but go 25 miles inland and you have places the Institute for Creation Research plus the usual collection of ultra-fundamentalist mega-churches. (I’m thankful to live along the coast, west of I-5).

  9. #9 Purple State
    November 15, 2004

    The relationship between a university and the vote results of its surrounding county or state are more complicated than the implicit assumptions behind the self-satisfied interpretations of these maps. For example, Yale is located in New Haven and Johns Hopkins is located in Baltimore. I suspect that the prototypical inhabitants of New Haven county and Baltimore county sharply diverge from the academic habitués envisioned by some. I recall considerable animosity directed at both institutions by locals because of issues such as inadequate tax payments, gentrification, labor strikes, and perceived elitism. Only a small fraction of students from the local community were able to attend either institution, and the large surrounding population was often disconnected and alienated from these universities. Should we assume that these community voters somehow function as a proxy for the “enlightened” university voters? Are they somehow more competent, educated, intelligent, and comely based solely on geographical proximity to a high-ranking university?

    Dano, thanks for the pointer to the cartograms constructed at the University of Michigan. They do attempt to represent admixtures of political choice by allowing gradations in coloration between red and blue and that is valuable. Of course, the maps are based on the result of a single vote and hence collapse multi-issue political variation.

  10. #10 Tim Lambert
    November 15, 2004

    Umm, Purple, what self-satisfied interpretation? I didn’t offer any interpretation.

  11. #11 Purple State
    November 15, 2004

    Tim, parsing my message you will see that I did not claim that you personally were offering a self-satisfied interpretation or indeed any interpretation at all. I apologize for any infelicities in phraseology.

  12. #12 Rob
    November 16, 2004

    I’m surprised Austalian universities do so well considering that the pay while not bad tends not to be as high as in the US.

  13. #13 Cryptic Ned
    November 16, 2004

    Purple, Duke isn’t that high because this is a ranking of research institutions. E.g. science is all, especially graduate departments.

  14. #14 Purple State
    November 16, 2004

    Cryptic Ned, Duke ranks number 5 in the US News list of “National Universities” in the “America’s Best Colleges 2005” issue. The ranking purportedly reflects “15 indicators of academic quality” but the precise methodology is unclear. The list contains mostly research-oriented universities. There is a “peer evaluation” and that might reflect faculty quality and research quality. The “Times Online” article that Tim Lambert linked to does not appear to explain the construction methodology of the THES list.

    One of the primary areas of scientific research today is medicine and Duke’s capabilities in this area are very strong. In the US News list of “Top Medical Schools – Research” Duke ranks number 4. Of course, rankings are imperfect and can be misleading.

  15. #15 Rob
    November 16, 2004

    Duke is not a strong graduate school. It has a very good professional schhols but not too mush in the graduate area.

  16. #16 Tim Lambert
    November 16, 2004

    For what it’s worth, Duke was no 52 on the THES list. You need to have a subscription to see how the THES compiled its list.

  17. #17 Brian Ritzel
    November 18, 2004

    Good to see University of Illinois (presumably at Urbana-Champaign) ranked at 35, even if The Times got the name wrong (Illinois University).

    Of course, it should be pointed out that UIUC is where Fumento received his JD….

  18. #18 Adam Barnes
    November 21, 2004

    You really are a smug arsehole and a reminder of why I hated my three years at UNSW… So what your saying is that the left now has a monopoly on intelligence in addition to their well known monopoly on compassion. Well I hope people like you continue with your crude misrepresentations. It will keep the left in opposition for the next generation.

  19. #19 Tim Lambert
    November 21, 2004

    Adam, I didn’t say anything at all about the map. It’s actually a kind of Rorschach test to see what you read into it. I’m sorry you had a bad time at UNSW, but the rudeness of your response suggests that the problem might lie more with you rather than UNSW.

  20. #20 Ed
    November 21, 2004

    This is quite hilarious. Apart from the UC system, few of those universities listed are prominent in my area of science, geology.

  21. #21 R
    November 21, 2004

    Go Monash! 33!

  22. #22 James Nightshade
    November 22, 2004

    This map is just the proof that I needed to show that folks on the East Coast are much smarter than those on the West Coast.

  23. #23 Purple State
    November 23, 2004

    Tim Lambert, Yes, the map certainly does provide an intriguing Rorscharch test. The fact that you created it, examined it, and considered it worthwhile to post to your blog provides a fascinating insight into your style of data analysis and evaluation (in a psychoanalytic Rorscharch sense).

  24. #24 Keith So
    August 16, 2005

    They must have used a good methodology
    because UNSW came in at number 36.

    Are you taking the mickey here?…Just wondering. The latest SJTU study have us lingering behind at 150–200

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