Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14

General discussions concerning institutions and degree programs.

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14

Postby Hungry Ghost » Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:56 pm

For what it's worth, here's London's Times Higher Education's new world university rankings.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/w ... ld-ranking

I'm just instinctively skeptical about things like this. For one thing, the best schools in the overall university rankings aren't the best schools in particular subjects. The rankings rank schools with doctoral programs and might not offer the best education at the undergraduate level. And schools that have lots of doctoral programs probably outperform schools that offer fewer programs, unless those programs are far more productive on a program-by-program level.

But it's fun to look at and argue about, nevertheless.
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Re: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14

Postby Rich Douglas » Thu Oct 03, 2013 4:59 pm

I see the University of Leicester has moved up to 161st, right next to Georgetown. Whaddaya know?
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Re: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14

Postby SteveFoerster » Thu Oct 03, 2013 5:33 pm

I was surprised that the Open University is not on their list, but they only go up to 400, and the Shanghai ranking lists them as in the 401-500 band, so I suppose they agree with each other.
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Re: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14

Postby Tark » Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:43 pm

The rankings rank schools with doctoral programs and might not offer the best education at the undergraduate level.

The THE rankings probably have some validity from the perspective of doctoral-level research. However, the focus on research hurts schools that don't have doctoral programs, regardless of how good their undergraduate programs might be.

For example, US liberal arts colleges are totally absent from the THE rankings. Yet in practice, top liberal arts colleges (Williams, Swarthmore, Amherst, Pomona, etc) pull their students from the same general undergraduate applicant pool as the 20 highest-ranked US universities.

The THE rankings also leave out good master's-level schools. For example, the best public universities of California generally do well in the THE rankings -- except for Cal Poly, which is absent. In practice, Cal Poly shares the same undergraduate applicant pool as the mid-ranked University of California schools (like Davis, Santa Barbara, San Diego, or Irvine). But while the UC schools make THE's Top 100, Cal Poly is not even considered -- presumably because it is part of the California State University system, which is not oriented towards research.
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Re: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14

Postby Tark » Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:05 pm

The THE rankings probably have some validity from the perspective of doctoral-level research. However, the focus on research hurts schools that don't have doctoral programs, regardless of how good their undergraduate programs might be.

You can also see this effect with Dartmouth College, an elite Ivy League school that is known for emphasizing undergraduate education over graduate-level research. You might predict that this emphasis would hurt Dartmouth in the THE rankings, and that is exactly the case.

US News puts Dartmouth at the top of their National Universities rankings, in a tie for #10.

But THE ranks Dartmouth at only #51 in the US (and #126 worldwide). According to THE, Dartmouth should be ranked lower than Rutgers or Arizona. That may be true -- from a research perspective. But if you gave US undergraduates the choice between Dartmouth, Rutgers, or Arizona, the vast majority would jump at the opportunity to attend Dartmouth.
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Re: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14

Postby Rich Douglas » Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:49 am

Tark wrote:You can also see this effect with Dartmouth College, an elite Ivy League school that is known for emphasizing undergraduate education over graduate-level research. You might predict that this emphasis would hurt Dartmouth in the THE rankings, and that is exactly the case.



While this might be true, it isn't necessarily wrong. A university has many purposes, two of which (teaching and research) you mention. A school that emphasizes one over the other might expect such a result.

Can the 51st-ranked university also be one of the best and most prestigious schools in the U.S.? Certainly.
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Re: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14

Postby Tark » Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:11 am

I see the University of Leicester has moved up to 161st, right next to Georgetown. Whaddaya know?

Georgetown is another school that gets hammered in the THE rankings, relative to the US News rankings.

Dartmouth drops from #10 in USNWR to #51 in THE (the THE numbers reflect rankings relative to US schools only)
Notre Dame drops from #18 in USNWR to #43 in THE
Georgetown drops from #20 in USNWR to #62 in THE
Wake Forest drops from #23 in USNWR to #69 in THE
William & Mary drops from #32 in USNWR to #78 in THE

What do these schools have in common? Although they are all well-respected names in the US, they aren't major centers for doctoral-level research. For example, they aren't members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an invitation-only club of the top US and Canadian research schools.

The USNWR rankings are more oriented towards undergraduates. With USNWR, it is possible for universities with strong undergraduate programs to be highly ranked, even if they are not AAU members, as the examples above show.

The THE rankings are more oriented towards doctoral-level research. The top-ranked US schools in the THE rankings are all AAU members. A school needs to have that research reputation to rank highly in THE.

Not suggesting that one or the other is "wrong", but it's worth noting that they are looking at different things.
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