World University Rankings 2012-2013 analysis

The publication of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings has become one of the key annual events in the international higher education calendar. Since their first appearance in 2004, these global university league tables have been recognised as the world's most authoritative source of broad comparative performance information on universities.

They are now regularly used by undergraduate and postgraduate students to help select degree courses, by academics to inform career decisions, by research teams to identify new collaborative partners, and by university managers to benchmark their performance and set strategic priorities. Moreover, as nations across the globe focus on the establishment of world-class universities as essential elements of a dynamic economy, our rankings are increasingly employed as a tool for governments to set national policy.

Below, Times Higher Education offers unparalleled analysis of the World University Rankings 2012-2013 results and contextualises those results in light of the rapidly globalising higher education sector.

Great responsibility
This is no beauty parade, says Phil Baty: it is a serious evaluation that echoes in common rooms and the corridors of power

Power is where power goes
Public investment in the Asia-Pacific academy seems to be paying off as the area's institutions climb the World University Rankings. So who are they displacing? It doesn't take much to work it out, says Phil Baty

They might be giants...or were
The 200-400 list of the World University Rankings shows systems bursting with potential - and others showing signs of weakness and even senescence. Phil Baty interprets the signs with the help of Philip Altbach

Elite at the crossroads as aspirants plot fresh course
The World University Rankings data tell another story apart from which institutions stand at the summit. Dirk Van Damme deciphers the dynamic trends in the global higher education code

Keep on moving
There is no room for complacency, says David Willetts, the UK's universities and science minister. Competition is getting tougher and those at the top must work harder to hold their positions

Competitive edge
Rivalry is vital for the development of world-class institutions, and substantial funding for research - and not just applied research - is a prerequisite for development, explains Bernd Huber

Consolidated gains
Ed Byrne recommends international collaboration between institutions to achieve excellence - Australians have taken to the idea like a duck-billed platypus to water

Virtually it's our best shot
E-learning allows universities to reach more people, to improve their teaching and, potentially, to keep costs down. It also offers a way forward for the Western academy, argues John Hennessy

Start local, go global and fight the nation's corner
Building research-intensive universities in developing countries is no easy task but it is vital to the promotion of economic, cultural, social and intellectual progress, argues Max Price

So young to have travelled so far
Mixing substantial investments in research with top academics and strategic international collaborations is a healthy recipe that has helped a Singaporean institution grow quickly, says Bertil Andersson

Strike while the iron's still hot
The academy remains Western-dominated, but emerging markets are rising. Traditional universities must future-proof themselves by tapping new players' demand for old-fashioned values, argues Karan Khemka

Name is the game
The reputation of a university is the most important factor for the majority of prospective international students, IDP has discovered. Phil Baty writes

Two heads, one vision
As the US model of split leadership reaches UK shores, Stephen Crookbain and Virginia Bottomley consider the pros and cons