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.

1HarvardUnited States96.1
2California Institute of TechnologyUnited States96
3Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUnited States95.6
4Stanford University United States94.3
5Princeton UniversityUnited States94.2
6University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom91.2
6University of OxfordUnited Kingdom91.2
8University of California BerkeleyUnited States91.1
9Imperial College LondonUnited Kingdom90.6
10Yale UniversityUnited States89.6
11University of California Los AngelesUnited States87.7
12University of ChicagoUnited States86.9
13Johns Hopkins UniversityUnited States86.4
14Cornell UniversityUnited States84.9
15Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ZurichSwitzerland83.4
15University of MichiganUnited States83.4
17University of TorontoCanada82
18Columbia University United States81
19University of PennsylvaniaUnited States79.5
20Carnegie Mellon UniversityUnited States79.3
21University of Hong KongHong Kong79.2
22University College LondonUnited Kingdom78.4
23University of Washington United States78
24Duke University United States76.5
25Northwestern UniversityUnited States75.9
26University of Tokyo Japan75.6
27Georgia Institute of TechnologyUnited States75.3
28Pohang Institute of Science & TechnologySouth Korea75.1
29University of California Santa BarbaraUnited States75
30University of British ColumbiaCanada73.8
30University of North CarolinaUnited States73.8
32University of California San DiegoUnited States73.2
33University of Illinois, UrbanaUnited States73
34National University of SingaporeSingapore72.9
35McGill UniversityCanada71.9
36University of MelbourneAustralia71
37Peking University China70.7
38Washington University St LouisUnited States69.9
39Ecole PolytechniqueFrance69.5
40University of EdinburghUnited Kingdom69.2
41Hong Kong University of Science & TechnologyHong Kong69
dth="36">42Ecole Normale Superiere, ParisFrance68.6
43Australian National UniversityAustralia67
43University of GottingenGermany67
43Carolinska InstituteSweden67
43University of WisconsinUnited States67
47Rice UniversityUnited States66.9
48Ecole Polytechnique Federale du LausanneSwitzerland66.5
49University of Science & Technology of ChinaChina66
49University of California IrvineUnited States66
51Vanderbilt University United States65.9
52University of MinnesotaUnited States65.6
53Tufts UniversityUnited States65.2
54University of California DavisUnited States65
55Brown UniversityUnited States64.9
56University of MassachusettsUnited States64.7
57Kyoto University Japan64.6
58Tsinghua UniversityChina64.2
59Boston University United States64
60New York UniversityUnited States63.9
61University of MunichGermany63
61Emory UniversityUnited States63
63University of Notre DameUnited States62.8
64University of PittsburghUnited States62.7
65Case Western Reserve UniversityUnited States62.2
66Ohio State UniversityUnited States62.1
67University of ColoradoUnited States61.6
68University of BristolUnited Kingdom61.4
68University of California Santa CruzUnited States61.4
68Yeshiva UniversityUnited States61.4
71University of SydneyAustralia61.2
72University of VirginiaUnited States61.1
73University of AdelaideAustralia60.7
73University of Southern CaliforniaUnited States60.7
75William & MaryUnited States60.4
76Trinity College DublinIreland60.3
77King’s College LondonUnited Kingdom59.7
78Stony Brook University United States59.6
79Korea Advanced Institute of Science & TechnologySouth Korea59.5
80University of SussexUnited Kingdom59.5
81University of Queensland AustraliaAustralia59.1
82University of YorkUnited Kingdom59.1
83Ruprecht Karl University of HeidelbergGermany59
83University of UtahUnited States59
85Durham UniversityUnited Kingdom58.9
86London School of Economics & Political ScienceUnited Kingdom58.3
87University of ManchesterUnited Kingdom58
88Royal Holloway, University of LondonUnited Kingdom57.9
89Lund UniversitySweden57.8
90University of ZurichSwitzerland57.7
90University of SouthamptonUnited Kingdom57.7
90Wake Forest UniversityUnited States57.7
93 "border-bottom-color: #f0f0f0; background-color: transparent; border-top-color: #f0f0f0; width: 131pt; border-right-color: #f0f0f0; border-left-color: #f0f0f0" class="xl65" width="175">McMaster University Canada57.6
94University College DublinIreland57.5
95University of BaselSwitzerland57.3
95George Washington UniversityUnited States57.3
95University of ArizonaUnited States57.3
98University of Maryland College ParkUnited States57.2
99Dartmouth CollegeUnited States57.1
100ENS De LyonFrance57

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.