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Few surprises in 2013 Shanghai ranking of universities

The United States held steady in the just-published Academic Ranking of World Universities, or ARWU, dominating global higher education with 17 universities in the top 20 and 149 in the top 500 – one fewer than last year.

Some institutions swapped places in the top 20 but they were all still there except for the University of Tokyo, which slipped a place to make way for the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich.

“In continental Europe, ETH Zurich becomes the first university in the region listed among the world top 20 in the history of the ARWU, the ranking stated when releasing the results on Thursday.

China had the second largest number of institutions in the top 500 list produced by the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which began a decade ago. The country once again had 42 universities in the ranking, seven of them in the top 200.

For the first time Germany had more universities in the ARWU than Britain – 38 – but it had only four in the top 100 against the UK’s nine. The UK once again had two universities in the top 20 and it lost one institution in the top 500, falling from 38 in 2012 to 37 this year.

One more Canadian institution made it into the Shanghai ranking, bringing its total to 23, including four universities in the top 100.

France retained 20 universities in the ARWU, with four in the top 100, while Japan slipped from 21 last year to 20 institutions this year, three of them in the top 100. Australia had 19 universities in the ranking including five in the top 100 – the same number as Italy, which lost one university from the ranking this year.

The Netherlands lost one university from the ranking (12) as did Spain (10) while Israel (seven), South Korea (11), Saudi Arabia (four) and Portugal (four) each added one university.

By region, Europe had 202 universities in the top 500, the Americas 182, Asia-Oceania 112 and Africa four.

Harvard top again

Harvard University topped the list as before, followed by Stanford once again in second place. Next came the University of California, Berkeley, which jumped ahead of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this year. Cambridge was in fifth place followed by Caltech, Princeton, Columbia, Chicago and Oxford.

In the top 100, the ranking said, Pierre and Marie Curie (37) in France overtook Paris-Sud (39) as the second best university in Continental Europe.

“The best ranked universities in the Asia-Pacific region are the University of Tokyo (21) and Kyoto University (26) in Japan, and the University of Melbourne (56) in Australia.”

The University of Groningen (92) in The Netherlands entered the Top 100 list for the first time, and 11 universities broke into the top 500 this year. They included Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the University of Coimbra in Portugal and the Catholic University of Korea, which made their first appearances.

Subject fields and subjects ranking

The Center for World-Class Universities also published the 2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities by broad subject fields and by subject fields. The top five universities in five broad subject fields and in five selected subject fields are:

  • Natural sciences and mathematics: Harvard, Berkeley, Caltech, Princeton and Cambridge.
  • Engineering-technology and computer sciences: MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, University of Texas Austin and University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
  • Life and agricultural sciences: Harvard, Cambridge, MIT, University of California (UC) San Francisco and Washington (Seattle).
  • Clinical medicine and pharmacy: Harvard, UC San Francisco, Washington (Seattle), Johns Hopkins and Columbia.
  • Social sciences: Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, Columbia and Berkeley.
  • Mathematics: Princeton, Harvard, Berkeley, Cambridge and Pierre & Marie Curie.
  • Physics: Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Caltech and Princeton.
  • Chemistry: Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, Cambridge and ETH Zurich.
  • Computer science – Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, Princeton and Harvard.
  • Economics-business: Harvard, Chicago, MIT, Stanford and Berkeley

The ranking and its methodology

More than 1,200 universities are ranked by ARWU every year, the Center for World-Class Universities (CWCU) said in a statement, “and the best 500 universities are published”.

The ARWU uses six indicators to rank world universities, including: number of alumni with Nobel prizes and Fields medals (10%); number of staff with Nobel prizes and Fields medals (20%); number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Reuters (20%); number of articles published in Nature and Science (20%); number of articles in the Science Citation Index – Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index (20%); and per capita performance of a university (10%).

The CWCU initiated the “International Conference on World-Class Universities” in 2005 and has held it every two years since then. The 5th International Conference on World-Class Universities (WCU-5) will be held from 3-6 November 2013 in Shanghai.

The CWCU builds databases on major research universities, is a clearinghouse of literature on world-class universities, and consults for governments and universities. The Shanghai Ranking Consultancy is an independent organisation that conducts research on higher education, and is the official publisher of the ARWU.
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