THE World Rankings set for release on 16 September

Seventh annual survey draws on robust new methodology and 13 performance indicators. Phil Baty reports

The seventh annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings will be published on 16 September – find out more at the new home of World University Rankings.

The date was announced in London this week as further details were revealed of the rankings' new methodology.

Following almost 10 months of intensive consultation, and after detailed input from an expert advisory group of more than 50 international higher education leaders, THE confirmed that it will use 13 individual performance indicators, combined under five broad categories, to create its new rankings.

"The indicators we have chosen will ensure not only that our rankings are the most comprehensive and sophisticated available, but that they will also be the only global rankings that cover all three core missions of a university: teaching, research and knowledge transfer," said Ann Mroz, editor of THE.

"While there is still a very strong set of indicators of research quality, which are essential as nations make cutting-edge research central to their economic strategies, we have also put unprecedented effort into examining institutions' teaching environments."

A new broad category, called "Teaching - the learning environment", will be given a weighting of 30 per cent.

Using five separate indicators, this category will use data on an institution's income, staff-student ratios and undergraduate-postgraduate mix, as well as the results of the first-ever global academic reputation survey examining the quality of teaching.

A further 30 per cent of the final rankings score will be based on another new indicator, "Research - volume, income and reputation".

This category will use four separate indicators, including data on research income, research output (measured by publications in leading peer-reviewed journals) and the results of the academic reputation survey relating to research.

The highest-weighted category is "Citations - research influence".

This category will examine a university's research influence, measured by the number of times its published work is cited in other academics' papers.

Based on the 12,000 journals indexed by Thomson Reuters' Web of Science, and taken over a five-year period, the citations data will be normalised to take account of different volumes of citations between disciplines.

Reflecting the high levels of correlation between citations data and research excellence, this category will be given a weighting of 32.5 per cent.

A fourth category, "International mix - staff and students", will use data on the proportion of international staff and students on campus. This indicator will be given a 5 per cent weighting.

Knowledge transfer activities will be reflected in "Industry income - innovation", a new category worth 2.5 per cent of the total rankings score. This will be based on just one measure in 2010 - research income from industry.

Ms Mroz said the methodology "takes a radical new approach that builds on seven years' experience in the rankings business, backed by the wide pool of global expertise to which we have access. The major changes we've made will mean that the rankings will set the global agenda more than ever before.

"We will give the most accurate picture yet of the global higher education hierarchy at a time of extraordinary change."

phil.baty@tsleducation.com


SLICE AND DICE: THE CATEGORIES AND INDICATORS OF THE'S WORLD UNIVERSITY RANKINGS

For the latest World University Rankings news, debate and social networking, see www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/worlduniversityrankings2010.

Readers' comments (3)

  • The pie chart shows what is holding universities back: An obsession with academic papers as a significant measurement of professional worth. It implies why university research finds it hard to become transferred to the 'real world', particularly in science and engineering. The 2.5% allocated to industrial funding nails this view further.

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  • Dr Hectic,
    We have discussed in detail why we have given citations such a high weighhting. For example: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=412998
    The key is that at a global level, the availability of truly comparative data is limited. Citations are widely recognised as a valuable, sensible and global proxy for reseach excellence. Our consultation suggested it deserved a high weighting. Consultation also suggested that industrial funding should not be given too high a weighting as it is self-reported information.
    Phil Baty, editor, THE World University Rankings

  • Indeed Avatar, it seems that teaching is a research inconvenience that should be discouraged. Also, those who are foolish enough to be teaching specialists will be weeded out at the earliest opportunity.

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  • The 2010 rankings represent the most serious attempt yet to give teaching proper credit as a core mission of any university -- this is the highest weighting given for teaching indicators in any of the global ranking systems. The issue is one of data. There simply are not many reliable and rigorous teaching indicators that can be applied on a global scale. We have invested heavily to recognise teaching.

  • "This looks like a huge step forward and will be by far the most sophisticated and scientific international rankings. Of course there will still be much sniping when the rankings are released, afterall most universities will not be in the top echelon." The same "anon" keeps saying this. Makes me think this person is a THES shill. The Shanghai rankings are far more objective. The teaching quality metrics the THES has used in the past add noise, rather than signal, in my opinion. The policy of weighting reports from different regions evenly leads to a huge over-rating of Australian and Asian universities, and the pool of of employers they interview leads to a huge bias against the handful of excellent universities without business schools. They've fixed some of the problems but not these ones, which were the most serious problems with the reputational survey.

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  • You appear to be criticising another ranking system, not the Times Higher Education World Universtiy Rankings. In November 2009 we annouced that we had scrapped our old 2004-2009 rankings methodology, and were developing an entirely new methodology with a new data supplier, Thomson Reuters. The 2010 rankings will not include any "interviews" with any employers and will not "weight reports from different regions evenly".

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