World University Rankings 2010-11: Ranking Ranking everywhere, not one that I believe!!!

Times Higher Education Supplement kicks off 2011 with their World Rankings… I question the need to rank…

Rankings of World Universities are indeed an exercise that is looked for with some amount of eagerness. This is primarily because US has transported its “ranking culture” to rest of us around the world too. It is an inane exercise and anyone of us who has been an observer of the way rankings sway from year to year, it leaves us more baffled than ever.

IMPORTANTLY, is it possible to compare apples with oranges. Except for the fact that they are both fruits, they just cannot and should not be compared. Similarly, Universities differ in their structure and focus between regions of the world. The American Universities have a completely different model to rest and closer home, in India, the Universities are almost always multi-college setups. Taking the example of the University that tutored me: Delhi University has possibly 50 odd colleges for each of the disciplines taught and each vary greatly in standards and quality including perceived quality plus reputation. I happened to study at SRCC which often tops Indian Ranking Charts for business courses but having marketed institutions around the world, I can say for sure that the program of study even in my college was completely non-comparable to the ones taught at even lower ranked institutions around the world. Without pointing fingers at my college, I am actually hammering anther key difference here. In India, the rankings are of colleges and not of Universities and that makes more sense again. We know that colleges differ and a student who studies at a high-ranked college tends to refer to his college as the alma mater and not the University even though the degree of the University. “I studied at SRCC, Stephens, Xaviers or Loyola…” is heard more than “I studied at Delhi, Kolkata or Madras University”. Hence for us to be ranked with world Universities is not just tricky but very superficial. Can I also add: Very Unfair.

We may be overjoyed to see Delhi ranked in top 500 in one of the rankings but I would ask, how was this ranking done. Is it possible to really make comparison between a multi-college University to one-college University. Is it possible to compare Universities that teach by semesters and grade by semesters to those that teach by year and grade by year. Maybe yes. However not sure if that makes sense. I would rather choose studying in Stephens or SRCC (cannot say LSR for technical reasons) because of what I know of them than the fact that their parent University ranks between 400 and 500 in the world.

Anyway, there are other issues with rankings too. The world rankings of repute that we have all referred to till two years ago has been the THES or Times Higher Education Supplement rankings. The point to remember is that the rankings was done by QS for THES till then.

Last year, QS and THES split and both of them have their own rankings now.

QS rankings for 2010 is on link

THES ranking of 2010 is on link

Now we arrive at the first major ranking released for 2011. THES has just released their 2011 ranking on their site. I provide the top 100 by them below. With this the wait begins for the QS rankings 2011 which is generally regarded as the more accurate…


1 Harvard University United States
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
4 University of California Berkeley United States
5 Stanford University United States
6 University of Oxford United Kingdom
7 Princeton University United States
8 University of Tokyo Japan
9 Yale University United States
10 California Institute of Technology United States
11 Imperial College London United Kingdom
12 University of California Los Angeles United States
13 University of Michigan United States
14 Johns Hopkins University United States
15 University of Chicago United States
16 Cornell University United States
17 University of Toronto Canada
18 Kyoto University Japan
19 University College London United Kingdom
19 University of Massachusetts United States
21 University of Illinois – Urbana United States
22 University of Pennsylvania United States
23 Columbia University United States
24 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland
25 University of Wisconsin United States
26 University of Washington United States
27 National University of Singapore Singapore
28 Carnegie Mellon University United States
29 McGill University Canada
30 University of California San Diego United States
31 University of British Columbia Canada
31 University of Texas at Austin United States
33 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
34 University of California San Francisco United States
35 Tsinghua University China
36 Duke University United States
37 London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
38 University of California Davis United States
39 Georgia Institute of Technology United States
40 Northwestern University United States
41 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill United States
42 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
43 Peking University China
43 University of Minnesota United States
45 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
45 University of Melbourne Australia
47 Purdue University United States
48 University of Munich Germany
49 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
50 Osaka University Japan
51-60 GROUP
51-60 Australian National University Australia
51-60 Karolinska Institute Sweden
51-60 New York University United States
51-60 Ohio State University United States
51-60 Seoul National University Republic of Korea
51-60 Tohoku University Japan
51-60 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan
51-60 University of California Santa Barbara United States
51-60 University of Pittsburgh United States
51-60 University of Sydney Australia
61-70 GROUP
61-70 Boston University United States
61-70 Ecole Polytechnique France
61-70 King’s College London United Kingdom
61-70 Pennsylvania State University United States
61-70 Technical University of Munich Germany
61-70 University of Florida United States
61-70 University of Manchester United Kingdom
61-70 University of Maryland College Park United States
61-70 University of Zurich Switzerland
61-70 Uppsala University Sweden
71-80 GROUP
71-80 École Polytechnique Federale of Lausanne Switzerland
71-80 Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
71-80 Lund University Sweden
71-80 Michigan State University United States
71-80 Rutgers the State University of New Jersey United States
71-80 University of Arizona United States
71-80 University of Colorado United States
71-80 University of Southern California United States
71-80 Utrecht University Netherlands
71-80 Washington University Saint Louis United States
81-90 GROUP
81-90 Catholic University of Leuven Belgium
81-90 Indiana University United States
81-90 Leiden University Netherlands
81-90 National Taiwan University Taiwan
81-90 Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg Germany
81-90 Texas A&M University United States
81-90 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
81-90 University of Bristol United Kingdom
81-90 University of Leeds United Kingdom
81-90 University of Queensland Australia Australia
91-100 GROUP
91-100 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
91-100 Indian Institute of Science India
91-100 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Republic of Korea
91-100 London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine United Kingdom
91-100 Nanyang Technological University Singapore
91-100 University of Helsinki Finland
91-100 University of Paris Pantheon Sorbonne France
91-100 University of Sheffield United Kingdom
91-100 University of Vienna Austria
91-100 University of Waterloo Canada
Ravi’s note: The above ranking signals one major development from Indian perspective. Indian Institute of Science has broken into the top 100. This angers me even more and puts a doubt on the full methodology. Not because that our Indian institution doesnot deserve to be there but more because it is just not possible to compare Indian Institute of Science which is largely research centric and post-graduate institution of excellence with many others in the list. The other institutions are also multi-disciplinary and teaching-oriented institutions. Indian Institute of Science is amongst the world leaders and possibly in top 10 of the institutions of its kind. We are once again comparing apples with pineapples.
Anyway guys, enjoy. I intend taking out my own world rankings as soon as I wake up. Its easy and can do it even before my morning cup of “chai”. Pen and Paper please… To confuse you and to ensure that it draws credibility, will detail a methodology and process that only you will try and decipher. Not the student who looks at it. What a joke this ranking thing has become!

1 Comment

  1. The word university is derived from the Latin “universitas magistrorum et scholarium”, roughly meaning “community of teachers and scholars.

    “University rankings” is one of the hottest issues, which continue to attract students & parents world-wide. The two highest profile ranking systems, of course, are the QS Rankings and the THES Rankings, both of which focus on what might constitute a world class university, and on the basis of that, who is ranked where.
    This type of ranking begins with the questions:
    why do we have university systems?
    What are these systems intended to do?
    And what do we expect them to deliver – to society, to individuals and to the world at large?

    I think we must have a more elaborated type of University Ranking based on many more revised criteria other than those already taken in count, like:
    1. Be specific: The ranking should be course oriented at first, not a generalized one.
    A business school can not be compared with a law school.
    2. Inclusiveness – number of students enrolled in the tertiary sector relative to the size of its population
    3. Access – ability of a country’s tertiary system to accept and help advance students with a low level of scholastic aptitude
    4. Effectiveness – ability of country’s education system to produce graduates with skills relevant to the country’s labour market (wage premia is the measure)
    5. Attractiveness – ability of a country’s system to attract a diverse range of foreign students (using the top 10 source countries)
    6. Age range – ability of a country’s tertiary system to function as a lifelong learning institution (share of 30-39 year olds enrolled)
    7. Responsiveness – ability of the system to reform and change
    8. Social Responsibility – Whether it is delivering proper education or not.
    “What is proper education?
    Real education is that which enables one to stand on one’s own legs. The education that you are receiving now in schools and colleges is only making you a race of dyspeptics. You are working like machines merely, and living a jelly fish existence.
    We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library….Swami Vivekananda.
    9. Quality and quality assurance system: The criteria vary according to objectives and disciplines, and assessments apply to conditions that can often not be quantified. Moreover, quality changes with the development of disciplines, educational activities and environments, while different interested parties place varying emphasis on different aspects of it. However, three factors have a central place: quality as viewed by the students, quality in terms of the fulfillment of recognized academic objectives and quality in terms of the broad social relevance of courses.
    10. Appropriate & effective use of technology: University like, “Calcutta University” have to work on this a lot…

    Over the past few months there have been numerous heated public interventions about this matter – from whether universities should be little more than giant patenting offices to whether they should be managers of social justice systems.
    And though there are evident shortcomings such as the lack of clarity about what might count as a university; the view that a university-based education is the most suitable form of education to produce a knowledge-based economy and society; what is the equity/access etc range within any one country, and so on.
    However, the big question now is whether universities will see value in this kind of ranking system for its wider systemic, as opposed to institutional, possibilities, even if it is as a basis for discussing what are universities for and how might we produce more equitable knowledge societies and economies.


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