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World University Rankings 2009. Rankings 09: Talking points

The World University Rankings are compiled using a mixture of quantitative indicators and informed opinion

What makes a world-class university? When Times Higher Education asked the leaders of top-ranked institutions this question last year, one response stood out for its inspirational qualities.

Robert Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, said that his institution was "driven by a singular focus on the value of open, rigorous and intense inquiry. Everything about the university that we recognise as distinctive flows from this."

He said that Chicago believed that "argumentation rather than deference is the route to clarity", that "arguments stand or fall on their merits" and that the university recognised that "our contributions to society rest on the power of our ideas and the openness of our environment to developing and testing ideas".

His answer prompted much praise. One Times Higher Education reader said that Zimmer's "glorious affirmation" was "marvellously refreshing" and had "brought joy to my heart, tears to my eyes and a renewed sense of commitment to the life of the mind".

But glorious as Zimmer's statement was, it also served to highlight the problem faced by the increasing number of people and organisations now in the business of ranking higher education institutions: how on earth do you measure such intangible things?

The short answer, of course, is that you cannot. What you can do, however, and what we have sought to do with these rankings, is to try to capture the more tangible and measurable elements that make a modern, world-class university.

When Times Higher Education first conceived its annual World University Rankings with QS in 2004, we identified "four pillars" that supported the foundations of a leading international institution. They are hardly controversial: high-quality research; high-quality teaching; high graduate employability; and an "international outlook".

Much more controversial are the measurements we chose for our rankings, and the balance between quantitative and qualitative measures.

To judge research excellence, we examine citations - how many times an academic's published work is cited.

We calculate this element - worth 20 per cent of the overall score - by taking the total number of citations for all papers published from the institution, and then dividing the figure by the number of full-time equivalent staff at the institution. This gives a sense of the density of research excellence on a campus.

Our proxy for teaching excellence is a simple measure of staff-to-student ratio. It is not perfect, but it is based on data that can be collected for all institutions, often via national bodies, and compared fairly. Our assumption is that it tells us something meaningful about the quality of the student experience. At the most basic level, it at least gives a sense as to whether an institution has enough teaching staff to give students the attention they require. This measure is worth 20 per cent of the overall score.

To get a sense of a university's international outlook, we measure the proportion of overseas staff a university has on its books (making up 5 per cent of the total score) and the proportion of international students it has attracted (making up another 5 per cent). This gives an impression of how attractive an institution is around the world, and suggests how much the institution has embraced the globalisation agenda.

But 50 per cent of the final score is made up from qualitative data from surveys of informed people - university academics and graduate employers.

The fundamental tenet of this ranking, as we have said in previous years, is that academics know best when it comes to identifying the best institutions.

So the biggest part of the ranking score - worth 40 per cent - is based on the result of an academic peer review survey. We consult academics around the world, from lecturers to university presidents, and ask them to name up to 30 institutions they regard as being the best in the world in their field.

Responses over the past three years are aggregated, although only the most recent response from anyone who has responded more than once is used. For our 2009 tables, we have drawn on responses from 9,386 people. With each person nominating an average of 13 institutions, this means that we can draw on about 120,000 data points.

The ranking also includes the results of an employer survey of 3,281 major graduate employers, making up 10 per cent of the overall result.

Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings 2009: full coverage and tables:

International staff score
International student score
Overall score
11Harvard UniversityUS8578100.0
23University of CambridgeUK989699.6
32Yale UniversityUS857799.1
47University College LondonUK969999.0
5=6Imperial College LondonUK9810097.8
5=4University of OxfordUK969797.8
78University of ChicagoUS778396.8
812Princeton UniversityUS898196.6
99Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUS319596.1
105California Institute of TechnologyUS1008995.9
1110Columbia UniversityUS288995.6
1211University of PennsylvaniaUS826094.2
1313=Johns Hopkins UniversityUS287194.1
1413=Duke UniversityUS296292.9
1515Cornell UniversityUS287392.5
1617Stanford UniversityUS259692.2
1716Australian National UniversityAustralia999290.5
1820McGill UniversityCanada679590.4
1918University of MichiganUS575289.9
20=23University of EdinburghUK938689.3
20=24ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)Switzerland1009489.3
2219University of TokyoJapan284288.9
2322King’s College LondonUK928888.4
2426University of Hong KongHong Kong1009587.5
2525Kyoto UniversityJapan322687.1
2629University of ManchesterUK908785.7
2721Carnegie Mellon UniversityUS629685.6
2828Ecole Normale Supérieure, ParisFrance766185.4
2941University of TorontoCanada825185.3
3030=National University of SingaporeSingapore10010084.3
3127Brown UniversityUS535583.9
32=30=University of California, Los AngelesUS213383.5
32=33Northwestern UniversityUS2810083.5
3432University of BristolUK857783.4
3539Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyHong Kong1009983.3
36=34=Ecole PolytechniqueFrance639583.1
36=38University of MelbourneAustralia599783.1
36=37University of SydneyAustralia999583.1
3936University of California, BerkeleyUS863482.7
4034=University of British ColumbiaCanada346081.2
4143University of QueenslandAustralia998280.7
4250=Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneSwitzerland10010080.6
43=44Osaka UniversityJapan243380.1
43=49Trinity College DublinIreland988380.1
4547Monash UniversityAustralia959680.0
4642Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong977979.6
47=45University of New South WalesAustralia829379.0
47=50=Seoul National UniversitySouth Korea293379.0
49=53University of AmsterdamNetherlands713278.9
49=56Tsinghua UniversityChina453478.9
5148University of CopenhagenDenmark717378.8
52=40New York UniversityUS265278.4
52=50=Peking UniversityChina243078.4
5446Boston UniversityUS258977.8
55=78=Technical University of MunichGermany567476.3
55=61Tokyo Institute of TechnologyJapan314976.3
5757Heidelberg UniversityGermany588076.2
5869University of WarwickUK859775.7
5974University of AlbertaCanada916675.4
6064Leiden UniversityNetherlands744075.3
61=65University of AucklandNew Zealand939974.7
61=55University of Wisconsin-MadisonUS293674.7
63=81=Aarhus UniversityDenmark696674.5
63=71University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUS724974.5
6572Katholieke Universiteit LeuvenBelgium555574.2
6675University of BirminghamUK837673.9
67=66London School of EconomicsUK10010073.7
67=88Lund UniversitySweden576273.7
6995Korea Advanced Institute of Science and TechnologySouth Korea473172.6
70=67Utrecht UniversityNetherlands432472.4
70=81=University of YorkUK958372.4
7268University of GenevaSwitzerland9710072.3
73=77Nanyang Technological UniversitySingapore10010072.0
73=60Washington University in St LouisUS305372.0
7563Uppsala UniversitySweden684071.9
76=58University of California, San DiegoUS222771.5
76=70University of Texas at AustinUS554171.5
78102=University of North Carolina, Chapel HillUS232671.3
7973University of GlasgowUK586071.2
8059University of WashingtonUS253671.1
81106=University of AdelaideAustralia879670.8
8276University of SheffieldUK817670.6
8378=Delft University of TechnologyNetherlands847370.4
8483=University of Western AustraliaAustralia998770.2
8554Dartmouth CollegeUS345270.1
8683=Georgia Institute of TechnologyUS367770.0
87=99=Purdue UniversityUS946069.8
87=83=University of St AndrewsUK919969.8
89108University College DublinIreland959069.7
9062Emory UniversityUS414569.6
9186University of NottinghamUK848669.4
92=120Nagoya UniversityJapan283469.2
92=106=University of ZurichSwitzerland997169.2
94137=Free University of BerlinGermany496369.0
95=99=University of SouthamptonUK867668.9
95=124=National Taiwan UniversityTaiwan292568.9
97112Tohoku UniversityJapan363268.6
9893=Ludwig-Maximilians University, MunichGermany536668.4
99104University of LeedsUK756268.3
10078=Rice UniversityUS386768.1
101177=University of OsloNorway325867.7
10293=Hebrew University of JerusalemIsrael613267.3
103=122=Durham UniversityUK916967.2
103=113Fudan UniversityChina294767.2
10587University of MinnesotaUS843867.1
10698University of California, Santa BarbaraUS372166.6
10791=Université de MontréalCanada827466.2
108=131University of BaselSwitzerland999066.1
108=89University of California, DavisUS262566.1
108=126Erasmus University RotterdamNetherlands576566.1
108=91=University of HelsinkiFinland292166.1
112102=University of Southern CaliforniaUS668866.0
113129University of WaterlooCanada714165.8
114=97University of PittsburghUS733565.6
114=114Tel Aviv UniversityIsrael352065.6
116111Maastricht UniversityNetherlands6610065.3
117149Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie Paris VIFrance278865.0
118117=Queen’s UniversityCanada683464.7
11990Case Western Reserve UniversityUS205264.6
120=128Eindhoven University of TechnologyNetherlands993964.4
120=105Pennsylvania State UniversityUS383464.4
122=147=Freiburg UniversityGermany517664.0
122=122=University of Maryland, College ParkUS553864.0
124147=City University of Hong KongHong Kong1006063.9
125124=University of OtagoNew Zealand1008363.8
126=116Université Catholique de LouvainBelgium477263.7
126=140Ecole Normale Supérieure de LyonFrance556063.7
12896University of VirginiaUS223663.5
129=153University of AberdeenUK908763.4
129=110Georgetown UniversityUS245163.4
129=121Ohio State UniversityUS694663.4
132=109Technion – Israel Institute of TechnologyIsrael181763.0
132=115University of ViennaAustria657763.0
134188=Pohang University of Science and TechnologySouth Korea501962.9
135133=Cardiff UniversityUK707262.8
136136University of GhentBelgium493462.6
137133=University of LiverpoolUK786462.4
138=166=Chulalongkorn UniversityThailand281462.3
138=144=University of GroningenNetherlands624962.3
140101Vanderbilt UniversityUS543662.2
141119University of RochesterUS616361.8
142214Keio UniversityJapan241861.6
143117=McMaster UniversityCanada273160.9
144=152University of BathUK899460.7
144=227University of BergenNorway606460.7
146=179University of Cape TownSouth Africa778660.6
146=139Humboldt University of BerlinGermany455960.6
148180=Waseda UniversityJapan413060.5
149=170=University of CalgaryCanada473160.4
149=155=Eberhard Karls University of TübingenGermany535060.4
151=159University of Western OntarioCanada702760.3
151=203Yonsei UniversitySouth Korea223160.3
153144=Shanghai Jiao Tong UniversityChina321660.2
154141University of Science and Technology of ChinaChina171360.1
155=158Kyushu UniversityJapan193460.0
155=183=Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityRussia764460.0
155=142Wageningen UniversityNetherlands399760.0
158162=Newcastle UniversityUK818659.6
159133=Technical University of DenmarkDenmark934759.5
160157Tufts UniversityUS1004359.4
161132University of California, IrvineUS263559.0
162170=Lancaster UniversityUK858158.9
163174=Indian Institute of Technology BombayIndia161358.6
164160Queen Mary, University of LondonUK929058.5
165155=VU University AmsterdamNetherlands392858.3
166=146University of ArizonaUS273258.0
166=130University of SussexUK878058.0
168=161University of LausanneSwitzerland888057.4
168=143Nanjing UniversityChina501757.4
168=224Saint-Petersburg State UniversityRussia162057.4
171=186=University of BarcelonaSpain243757.2
171=174=Hokkaido UniversityJapan192557.2
173127Stony Brook UniversityUS618757.1
174=192=University of BolognaItaly272956.9
174=173KTH, Royal Institute of TechnologySweden839856.9
174=216University of TsukubaJapan233656.9
177=195University of AntwerpBelgium595656.7
177=200=University of AthensGreece09156.7
179137=Texas A&M UniversityUS323556.6
180230Universiti MalayaMalaysia726556.5
181154Indian Institute of Technology DelhiIndia151356.4
182216Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule AachenGermany506656.3
183151Rutgers, The State University of New JerseyUS612856.2
184207University of KarlsruheGermany498156.1
185258University of GothenburgSweden658655.8
186=180=University of Colorado at BoulderUS362055.6
186=166=University of GöttingenGermany404955.6
188186=University of CanterburyNew Zealand998255.2
189182Macquarie UniversityAustralia8610054.9
190150National Autonomous University of MexicoMexico351554.8
191=183=Université Libre de BruxellesBelgium579654.7
191=194University of ReadingUK808154.7
193=192=University of BernSwitzerland924454.5
193=170=Indiana University BloomingtonUS464854.5
195224Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong Kong1007554.4
196=177=University of LeicesterUK729453.9
196=164Simon Fraser UniversityCanada884953.9
198162=Chalmers University of TechnologySweden445753.8
199168University of Notre DameUS253153.6
200200=University of TwenteNetherlands836653.5

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