Transcription and Translation

Some more rankings

For some reason I have this irrational love of statistics. It could be due to the fact that as a microscopist I am very weary of qualitative data … it’s easy to see what you want to see. Quantification is the attempt to provide a more objective assessment of the world.

This fascination of statistics could also stem from the fact that as a kid growing up in North America, you are bombarded with numbers. From sports (who scored the most goals for the Canadiens in 1983?), to the Almanac with all of it’s lists, to pop culture (I can hear Casey Kasem now “and the top song of the week is…”), our culture is saturated in numbers.

So while I was in Montreal there was a big hullabaloo over the rankings of Universities world wide. Unlike the last ranking I wrote about (“Best Places to Work in 2006: Academia” from The Scientist“) this report is for the overall gestalt of the academic institution and is compiled by The London Times.

Now people back home were happy – McGill university was ranked 21st in the world. I downloaded the complete list of the 200 “best” and just browsed to see if there was anything interesting. Here are some tidbits:

– Not surprisingly, American Universities dominated the list.
– Australian Universities did very well.
– Beijing University is #14? I would not have guessed that. (For comparison, it’s listed ahead of any Japanesse University!)
– Where are the German and Italian universities???? The top German university listed was Heidelberg at position 58, and the top Italian University was La Sapienza University, Rome at #197. Pitiful. In comparison there were two Canadian (McGill, University of Toronto #27), two French (Ecole Normale Superieure #18, Ecole Polytechnique #37) and two Swiss (ETH Zurich #24, Geneva University #39) institutes in the top 50.

Now of course there are other rankings (for example one compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Institute of Higher Education) but there again German and Italian universities are underrepresented. We spend a lot of time dissing the American educational system (just read this OpEd from today’s NYTimes), but I must say that at the college level, the top American Universities are doing their job including many of the public schools (the UC schools, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin and University of Washington just to name a few). Now these rankings are never as objective as we would like, but if I were German or Italian, I would worry.

Since the list will not be up forever, here are the rankings:

1 Harvard University
2 Cambridge University
3 Oxford University
4= Massachusetts Institute of Technology
4= Yale University
6 Stanford University
7 California Institute of Technology
8 University of California, Berkeley
9 Imperial College London
10 Princeton University
11 University of Chicago
12 Columbia University
13 Duke University
14 Beijing University
15 Cornell University
16 Australian National University
17 London School of Economics
18 Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris
19= National University of Singapore
19= Tokyo University
21 McGill University
22 Melbourne University 
23 Johns Hopkins University
24 ETH Zurich
25 University College London
26 Pennsylvania University
27 University of Toronto
28 Tsing Hua University
29= Kyoto University
29= University of Michigan
31 University of California, Los Angeles
32 University of Texas at Austin
33= Edinburgh University
33= University of Hong Kong
35= Carnegie Mellon University
35= Sydney University
37 Ecole Polytechnique
38 Monash University
39 Geneva University
40 Manchester University
41 University of New South Wales
42 Northwestern University
43 New York University
44 University of California, San Diego
45 Queensland University
46= Auckland University
46= King’s College London
48= Rochester University
48= Washington University, St Louis
50= University of British Columbia
50= Chinese University of Hong Kong
52 Sciences Po
53 Vanderbilt University
54= Brown University
54= Copenhagen University
56 Emory University
57 Indian Institutes of Technology
58= Heidelberg University
58= Hong Kong University Sci & Technol
60 Case Western Reserve University
61= Dartmouth College
61= Nanyang Technological University
63 Seoul National University
64= Bristol University
64= Ecole Polytech Fédérale de Lausanne
66 Boston University
67 Eindhoven University of Technology
68 Indian Institutes of Management
69 Amsterdam University
70= School of Oriental and African Studies
70= Osaka University
72 Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon
73 Warwick University
74 National Autonomous Univ of Mexico
75 Basel University
76 Catholic University of Louvain (French)
77 University of Illinois
78 Trinity College Dublin
79=   Otago University
79= University of Wisconsin
81 Glasgow University
82= Macquarie University
82= Technical University Munich
84 Washington University
85 Nottingham University
86 Delft University of Technology
87 Vienna University
88 Pittsburgh University
89 Lausanne University
90= Birmingham University
90= Leiden University
92 Erasmus University Rotterdam
93= Lomonosov Moscow State University
93= Pierre and Marie Curie University
95 Utrecht University
96 Catholic University of Leuven (Flemish)
97 Wageningen University
98 Munich University
99= Queen Mary, University of London
99= Pennsylvania State University
101 University of Southern California
102= Georgetown University
102= Rice University
102= Sheffield University
105= University of Adelaide
105= Humboldt University Berlin
105= Sussex University
108 National Taiwan University
109= St Andrews University
109= Zurich University
111= Maryland University
111= Uppsala University
111= Wake Forest University
111= University of Western Australia
115 University of Twente
116= Fudan University
116= Helsinki University
118 Tokyo Institute of Technology
119 Hebrew University of Jerusalem
120 Keio University
121 Leeds University
122 Lund University
123 University of North Carolina
124= University of Massachusetts Amherst
124= York University
126 Aarhus University
127 Purdue University
128= Kyushu University
128= Nagoya University
130= Tufts University
130= Virginia University
132 Durham University
133= University of Alberta
133= Brussels Free University (Flemish)
133= Hokkaido University
133= Newcastle upon Tyne University
137 Nijmegen University
138 Vienna Technical University
139 Liverpool University
140 Cranfield University
141= University of California, Santa Barbara
141= Cardiff University
141= Ghent University
141= Southampton University
145 Georgia Institute of Technology
146 RMIT University
147= Chalmers University of Technology
147= Tel Aviv University
148 Free University Berlin
150= Korea University
150= Texas A&M University
152 Notre Dame University 
153 Bath University
154 City University of Hong Kong
155 McMaster University
156= Curtin University of Technology
156= Göttingen University
158= Technion — Israel Inst of Technology
158= University of Ulm
158= Waseda University
161= Chulalongkorn University
161= University Louis Pasteur Strasbourg
163 Michigan State University
164 Saint Petersburg State University
165= Brussels Free University (French)
165= China University of Sci & Technol 
165= State Univ of New York, Stony Brook
168= George Washington University
168= Tohoku University
170= University of California, Davis
170= University of Tubingen
172= Aachen RWT 
172= Maastricht University
172= Royal Institute of Technology
172= Yeshiva University
176 Queen’s University
177 Oslo University
178 University of Bern
179 Shanghai Jiao Tong University
180 Nanjing University
181= Kobe University
181= Université de Montréal
183= Jawaharlal Nehru University
183= Free University of Amsterdam
185 University of Kebangsaan Malaysia
186 Innsbruck University
187= Brandeis University
187= Frankfurt University
187= University of Minnesota
190= University of Barcelona
190= Reading University
192= Malaya University
192= Queensland University of Technology
194 Technical University of Denmark
195 Aberdeen University
196 University of Wollongong
197 La Sapienza University, Rome
198= University of California, Irvine
198= Korea Advanced Inst Science & Technol
200 University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV)

Data compiled for The Times Higher by QS and Evidence Ltd, published October 06 2006.


  1. #1 Dave Munger
    October 11, 2006

    Just curious: why is Washington University listed twice? Is the second one actually the University of Washington in Seattle?

  2. #2 apalazzo
    October 11, 2006

    Is the second one actually the University of Washington in Seattle?

    I assume. It would be strange that U Wash wouldn’t be in the top 100 (in fact it seems a bit low – I think that that UW’s ranking is much higher in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s poll.)

  3. #3 U
    October 11, 2006

    Beijing and Qing Hua are good universities, but to say they’re better than Tokyo is a mistake. Also, placing them above Toronto? Gimme a break. How can universities that lack academic freedom place that highly?

    Meanwhile, Harvard pwns.

  4. #4 U
    October 11, 2006

    Also, McMaster a better university than Göttingen? The authors had a real sense of humour.

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