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Cruel summer – the all new ARWU world ranking

The 2017 Shanghai academic ranking of world universities is out. What better to enjoy with a cocktail on the beach? ponders Paul Greatrix.
This article is more than 5 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

Your ideal holiday reading is here. Freshly minted as a special summer holiday treat, we have the very latest ARWU league table. As in previous editions there really is very little to get you out of your sun lounger as this is a league table where things remain pretty stable from year to year. The full rankings are now available at the ARWU website.

There are really very few surprises here therefore and yet again almost no movement in the top 20 with Harvard retaining the number 1 spot and everyone else just about unchanged too. There is one new entry to the top 20 and the biggest jump inside the 20 is the University of Washington which climbs two places to 13. Johns Hopkins & Berkeley both drop 2. The press release adds a little more background to Harvard’s 15th table-topping year:

Harvard University remains the number one in the world for the 15th year. Stanford continues to be the second top university. The University of Cambridge overtakes MIT and Berkeley and raises to the third best university in the world. Washington University in St. Louis enters the top 20 for the first time. ETH Zurich (19th) in Switzerland continues to be the top ranked university in Continental Europe this year, followed by University of Copenhagen (30th) in Denmark and Pierre and Marie Curie University (40th) in France. Tokyo university is ranked 24th and is still the highest ranked university in Asia. Tsinghua University (48th) enters the top 50 for the first time and becomes the third top ranked Asian universities behind Kyoto University (35th). University of Melbourne (39th) tops other universities in Oceania.

Here is the world top 20:
11Harvard UniversityUSA
22Stanford UniversityUSA
34University of CambridgeUK
45Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)USA
53University of California, BerkeleyUSA
66Princeton UniversityUSA
77University of OxfordUK
89Columbia UniversityUSA
98California Institute of TechnologyUSA
1010University of ChicagoUSA
1111Yale UniversityUSA
1212University of California, Los AngelesUSA
1315University of WashingtonUSA
1413Cornell UniversityUSA
1514University of California, San DiegoUSA
1617University College LondonUK
1718University of PennsylvaniaUSA
1816John Hopkins UniversityUSA
1919Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ZurichSwitzerland
2023Washington University in St LouisUSA
This ranking doesn’t use a huge number of criteria, only six:
Universities are ranked by several indicators of academic or research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, papers published in Nature and Science, papers indexed in major citation indices, and the per capita academic performance of an institution. For each indicator, the highest scoring institution is assigned a score of 100, and other institutions are calculated as a percentage of the top score. The distribution of data for each indicator is examined for any significant distorting effect; standard statistical techniques are used to adjust the indicator if necessary.
There is much more detail on the methodology here for those interested in the minutiae.

There has also been very little movement in the UK positions but Cambridge has nudged further ahead and Cardiff has entered the top 100.

Country RankInstitutionWorld Rank
1University of Cambridge3
2University of Oxford7
3University College London16
4Imperial College London27
5The University of Edinburgh32
6The University of Manchester38
7King's College London46
8University of Bristol61
9Cardiff University99
10--17The University of Glasgow101--150
10--17The University of Sheffield101--150
10--17University of Birmingham101--150
10--17University of Leeds101--150
10--17University of Liverpool101--150
10--17University of Nottingham101--150
10--17University of Southampton101--150
10--17University of Warwick101--150
18--20London School of Economics and Political Science151--200
18--20Queen Mary University of London151--200
18--20University of Exeter151--200

Reach for another cocktail, then, and put your feet up until the next time.

The complete rankings, subject tables and detailed methodologies can be found at ShanghaiRanking’s website.

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