NUS 34th, NTU 174th in Times university rankings

The National University of Singapore is 34th and Nanyang Technological University 174th in the 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings powered by Thomson Reuters, released today.

American universities swept the board. Here’s the list of the world’s top 100 universities.

Rank University Country Score
1 Harvard United States 96.1
2 California Institute of Technology United States 96
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States 95.6
4 Stanford University  United States 94.3
5 Princeton University United States 94.2
6 University of Cambridge United Kingdom 91.2
6 University of Oxford United Kingdom 91.2
8 University of California Berkeley United States 91.1
9 Imperial College London United Kingdom 90.6
10 Yale University United States 89.6
11 University of California Los Angeles United States 87.7
12 University of Chicago United States 86.9
13 Johns Hopkins University United States 86.4
14 Cornell University United States 84.9
15 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich Switzerland 83.4
15 University of Michigan United States 83.4
17 University of Toronto Canada 82
18 Columbia University  United States 81
19 University of Pennsylvania United States 79.5
20 Carnegie Mellon University United States 79.3
21 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 79.2
22 University College London United Kingdom 78.4
23 University of Washington  United States 78
24 Duke University  United States 76.5
25 Northwestern University United States 75.9
26 University of Tokyo  Japan 75.6
27 Georgia Institute of Technology United States 75.3
28 Pohang Institute of Science & Technology South Korea 75.1
29 University of California Santa Barbara United States 75
30 University of British Columbia Canada 73.8
30 University of North Carolina United States 73.8
32 University of California San Diego United States 73.2
33 University of Illinois, Urbana United States 73
34 National University of Singapore Singapore 72.9
35 McGill University Canada 71.9
36 University of Melbourne Australia 71
37 Peking University  China 70.7
38 Washington University St Louis United States 69.9
39 Ecole Polytechnique France 69.5
40 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom 69.2
41 Hong Kong University of Science & Technology Hong Kong 69
42 Ecole Normale Superiere, Paris France 68.6
43 Australian National University Australia 67
43 University of Gottingen Germany 67
43 Carolinska Institute Sweden 67
43 University of Wisconsin United States 67
47 Rice University United States 66.9
48 Ecole Polytechnique Federale du Lausanne Switzerland 66.5
49 University of Science & Technology of China China 66
49 University of California Irvine United States 66
51 Vanderbilt University  United States 65.9
52 University of Minnesota United States 65.6
53 Tufts University United States 65.2
54 University of California Davis United States 65
55 Brown University United States 64.9
56 University of Massachusetts United States 64.7
57 Kyoto University  Japan 64.6
58 Tsinghua University China 64.2
59 Boston University  United States 64
60 New York University United States 63.9
61 University of Munich Germany 63
61 Emory University United States 63
63 University of Notre Dame United States 62.8
64 University of Pittsburgh United States 62.7
65 Case Western Reserve University United States 62.2
66 Ohio State University United States 62.1
67 University of Colorado United States 61.6
68 University of Bristol United Kingdom 61.4
68 University of California Santa Cruz United States 61.4
68 Yeshiva University United States 61.4
71 University of Sydney Australia 61.2
72 University of Virginia United States 61.1
73 University of Adelaide Australia 60.7
73 University of Southern California United States 60.7
75 William & Mary United States 60.4
76 Trinity College Dublin Ireland 60.3
77 King’s College London United Kingdom 59.7
78 Stony Brook University  United States 59.6
79 Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology South Korea 59.5
80 University of Sussex United Kingdom 59.5
81 University of Queensland Australia Australia 59.1
82 University of York United Kingdom 59.1
83 Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg Germany 59
83 University of Utah United States 59
85 Durham University United Kingdom 58.9
86 London School of Economics & Political Science United Kingdom 58.3
87 University of Manchester United Kingdom 58
88 Royal Holloway, University of London United Kingdom 57.9
89 Lund University Sweden 57.8
90 University of Zurich Switzerland 57.7
90 University of Southampton United Kingdom 57.7
90 Wake Forest University United States 57.7
93 McMaster University  Canada 57.6
94 University College Dublin Ireland 57.5
95 University of Basel Switzerland 57.3
95 George Washington University United States 57.3
95 University of Arizona United States 57.3
98 University of Maryland College Park United States 57.2
99 Dartmouth College United States 57.1
100 ENS De Lyon France 57

You can see the full list of the world’s top 200 universities at THE (Times Higher Education) World University Rankings powered by Thomson Reuters.

NUS should be happy it did so well, ranking 34th, behind only three others in Asia: University of Hong Kong, University of Tokyo and South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology.

This year’s report says:

The 2010-11 World University Rankings tables, compiled for the first time with data sourced entirely from Thomson Reuters, should be viewed as a correction to the tables of previous years. After a dramatic rethink of the methodology, they are now based more on objective measures and less on subjective reputation than the rankings that THE published between 2004
and 2009 with a different data supplier.

In other words, the Times Higher Education is saying the last few years’ rankings were not quite right. They were controversial, which is why it is now using Thomson Reuters.

There is no reason to take this report either as the last word. One should study what one wants to and go to the university which suits him or her best. NTU is a good university with excellent facilities and so is NUS.

But anyone who can afford to go to a good American or British university should not miss the experience because of the culture and the atmosphere. I am not knocking Singapore. But anyone who surfs the internet can see the variety of content published in America. And look at the British newspapers. Singapore is lovely, but it doesn’t have all that. Education isn’t just classroom courses, it’s a total experience.

American excellence

Phil Baty writes in the report, Measure by measure: the US is the best. He writes:

The US eclipses all other nations. It boasts seven of the top 10 spots, more than half the top 50 places (27) and has a total of 72 institutions in the top 200 table. It has more than twice as many universities represented in the top 200 as its nearest rival, the UK, which has 29.

"It is not surprising that the US tops the rankings," says Philip Altbach, director of the Centre for International Higher Education at Boston College. "The US understands what a research university is. Its institutions reward academic staff for productivity, and they have the infrastructures to support their academics."

The US takes all top-five spots in the global rankings. Harvard University is number one, followed by the California Institute of Technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Princeton University.

How can one nation dominate global higher education so overwhelmingly?

"Despite having taken some hits due to the financial crisis, American academic salaries remain high by global standards," says Altbach. "This, and the generally cosmopolitan atmosphere at the top universities, helps attract some of the best and brightest from around the world."

Moreover, Altbach says, "Americans in general are most influential in the knowledge networks." They take many journal editorships, for example, so they help determine what gets published in them.

And of course, the US spends more than twice as much on tertiary education as its competitors. As a proportion of gross domestic product, it spends 3.1 per cent, compared with the average of 1.5 per cent recorded for nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Baty writes in the report:

The US dominance of our overall top 200 ranking is reflected in our six subject tables.

An American university sits at the top of every one of our top-50 subject rankings and one institution — Harvard University — tops four of the six tables.

The rankings indicate that Harvard is the best in the world in arts and humanities, social sciences, physical sciences and clinical, pre-clinical and health-related subjects. The California Institute of Technology takes top spot in the engineering and technology table, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is best for life sciences.

Steve Woodfield, senior researcher in higher education at the UK’s Kingston University, says that the US dominance of the tables is not surprising. In addition to the sector’s great wealth, history and extensive international academic links, he says, American institutions have also become very good at understanding their own strengths and developing them.

"Many US universities have sophisticated institutional research capability in which they collect data about their performance in strategic areas for the purpose of institutional improvement," he says. "They have benchmarked their performance on objective criteria and can make the necessary adjustments to improve their ratings."

Gainers and losers

The report says:

Hong Kong has four universities in the top 200, with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 41st place, Hong Kong Baptist University in 111th and Hong Kong Polytechnic University in joint 149th.

Mainland China has six institutions in the top 200. Its flagship is Peking University, in 37th place, followed by the University of Science and Technology of China in joint 49th and Tsinghua University in 58th.

But China is not the only nation challenging the traditional global elite.

Although it has no institutions in the top 100, Taiwan has four in the top 200 table: National Tsing Hua University in joint 107th place, National Taiwan University in joint 115th, National Sun Yat-Sen University in 163rd and National Chiao Tung University in 181st. South Korea may be starting to see the benefits of its multibillion-dollar world-class university project, with four institutions in the top 200. Its flagship, Pohang University of Science and Technology, takes 28th place, making it the third-highest rated institution in Asia. The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology also makes it into the top 100, in joint 79th place.

But while the tables recognise strength across many parts of Asia, they also reveal potential weaknesses in Japan. Under the previous rankings methodology, in 2009 Japan had 11 institutions in the top 200. Under our new system, it has only five.

Japan’s flagship, the University of Tokyo, is clearly a world leader, in 26th place this year — making it the second-highest ranked institution in Asia — and Kyoto University is also a strong performer, at 57th. But Japan has no other institutions in the top 100, and the country does not perform anywhere near as well as it did under the old rankings.

A Global Research Report published in June by Thomson Reuters highlighted the relative stagnation of Japan’s research output and raised concerns about the limited extent of its international research collaborations.

Australia, traditionally a very strong performer under the previous rankings, suffers under the new methodology. It has seven institutions in the top 200, but only two — the University of Melbourne in 36th place and the Australian National University in joint 43rd — make the top 50.

The strength of some Asian nations’ showing this year also serves as a warning to the UK. Although the tables confirm the UK’s position as the second-strongest nation for higher education, with 29 institutions represented in the top 200, it does not perform as well under the new methodology.

Britain takes three places in the top 10, with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge tied for sixth place. Imperial College London is ninth. But the next best UK institution, University College London, is down in 22nd place, followed by Edinburgh in 40th.

Germany has 14 institutions in the top 200. Its highest-ranked is the University of Göttingen, in joint 43rd place, followed by the University of Munich in joint 61st.

Germany’s neighbour Switzerland boasts six institutions in the top 200, including the highest-ranked institution outside the US and the UK — the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, which shares 15th place.

Other European nations boast top performers. France, with four institutions in the 200 list, has the École Polytechnique, Paris in 39th place and the École Normale Supérieure, Paris in 42nd. Sweden’s Karolinska Institute is in joint 43rd place.