Top 50 Universities of 2012-2013 (World, Continent, and Subject Rankings)

The new ranking of best universities in the world for 2012-2013 has just been released, showing that – once again – America has the highest amount of prestigious schools in the world. The top ranking school was the California Institute of Technology, which was also #1 last year, and #2 the year prior. But which universities faired the best on their respective continents? And which countries had the highest rankings for specific areas of study? And does it even matter anyways?

Times Higher Education University Rankings

World Ranking Top 50

The University of Oxford managed to get the #2 spot this year, up two spots from last year, tying with Stanford University which has been 2nd for two years in a row. The next non-American and non-British institution was from Switzerland – the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich.

Canada has slipped from the top 20, now calling this a “wake-up call” for the University of Toronto. After Canada, the next country to appear is Japan’s University of Tokyo at 27, which was happily reported to be the top institution in Asia – followed by Australia’s University of Melbourne at 28, and the National University of Singapore at 29.

1 California Institute of Technology US
95.5
2 University of Oxford UK
93.7
2 Stanford University US
93.7
4 Harvard University US
93.6
5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology US
93.1
6 Princeton University US
92.7
7 University of Cambridge UK
92.6
8 Imperial College London UK
90.6
9 University of California, Berkeley US
90.5
10 University of Chicago US
90.4
11 Yale University US
89.2
12 ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich Switzerland
87.8
13 University of California, Los Angeles US
87.7
14 Columbia University US
87.0
15 University of Pennsylvania US
86.6
16 Johns Hopkins University US
85.6
17 University College London UK
85.5
18 Cornell University US
83.3
19 Northwestern University US
83.1
20 University of Michigan US
82.6
21 University of Toronto Canada
82.2
22 Carnegie Mellon University US
81.5
23 Duke University US
81.2
24 University of Washington US
79.9
25 University of Texas at Austin US
78.8
25 Georgia Institute of Technology US
78.8
27 University of Tokyo Japan
78.3
28 University of Melbourne Australia
77.9
29 National University of Singapore Singapore
77.5
30 University of British Columbia Canada
77.3
31 University of Wisconsin-Madison US
76.9
32 University of Edinburgh UK
76.1
33 University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign US
75.8
34 McGill University Canada
75.7
35 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
75.6
35 University of California, Santa Barbara US
75.6
37 Australian National University Australia
75.4
38 University of California, San Diego US
75.2
39 London School of Economics and Political Science UK
73.1
40 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
73.0
41 New York University US
72.8
42 Karolinska Institute Sweden
72.4
42 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill US
72.4
44 University of California, Davis US
71.8
44 Washington University in St Louis US
71.8
46 Peking University China
70.7
47 University of Minnesota US
70.5
48 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Germany
70.4
49 University of Manchester UK
70.1
50 Pohang University of Science and Technology Republic of Korea
69.4

How Did They Arrive at These Results?

These rankings come from the Times Higher Education, who covered the top 400 universities. Above are just the 50 highest ranking. This is a statement from two years ago, talking about the methodology they used for determining their numbers:

We are aware that higher education institutions are extraordinarily complex organisations. They do many wonderful, life-changing and paradigm-shifting things that simply cannot be measured. Data on some of their most valuable endeavours simply do not exist or cannot be meaningfully compared on a global scale; many of the proxies commonly used are less than satisfactory. [. . .]

The tables’ methodology was determined only after 10 months of detailed consultation with leading experts in global higher education: more than 50 senior figures across every continent provided extensive feedback on our plans, amounting to more than 250 pages of commentary. The wider university community also had its say via more than 300 postings on our website.

That was from two years ago, but is relevant to this year’s rankings as well. But this is their major explanation:

We employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments. The methodology for the 2012-13 World University Rankings is identical to that used for the 2011-12 tables, offering a year-on-year comparison based on true performance rather than methodological change.

Our 13 performance indicators are grouped into five areas:

  • Teaching: the learning environment (worth 30 per cent of the overall ranking score)
  • Research: volume, income and reputation (worth 30 per cent)
  • Citations: research influence (worth 30 per cent)
  • Industry income: innovation (worth 2.5 per cent)
  • International outlook: staff, students and research (worth 7.5 per cent).

Location and Opinion Rankings

European Institutions

This is a list of the top 20 European institutions.

2 University of Oxford UK
93.7
7 University of Cambridge UK
92.6
8 Imperial College London UK
90.6
12 ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich Switzerland
87.8
17 University College London UK
85.5
32 University of Edinburgh UK
76.1
39 London School of Economics and Political Science UK
73.1
40 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
73.0
42 Karolinska Institute Sweden
72.4
48 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Germany
70.4
49 University of Manchester UK
70.1
57 King’s College London UK
66.2
58 Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Belgium
66.1
59 École Normale Supérieure France
65.9
62 École Polytechnique France
65.7
64 Leiden University Netherlands
65.1
67 Utrecht University Netherlands
64.1
70 Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Germany
63.2
70 Wageningen University and Research Center Netherlands
63.2
72 Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands
 62.9

Asian Institutions

This list is the top 20 Universities in Asia. Seeing Japan, Israel and Korea up there make sense when considering the most educated countries in the world.

27 University of Tokyo Japan
78.3
29 National University of Singapore Singapore
77.5
35 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
75.6
46 Peking University China
70.7
50 Pohang University of Science and Technology Republic of Korea
69.4
52 Tsinghua University China
67.1
54 Kyoto University Japan
66.8
59 Seoul National University Republic of Korea
65.9
65 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
64.4
68 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Republic of Korea
64.0
86 Nanyang Technological University Singapore
59.4
124 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
54.4
128 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan
53.7
134 National Taiwan University Taiwan
53.2
137 Tohoku University Japan
53.1
137 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
53.1
147 Osaka University Japan
52.0
158 Tel Aviv University Israel
50.5
182 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
48.5
183 Yonsei University Republic of Korea

Opinion Ranking

There’s also the opinion ranking, which is far less scientific than the ranking above, but they take it seriously enough to say this:

The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings employ the world’s largest invitation-only academic opinion survey to provide the definitive list of the top 100 most powerful global university brands. A spin-off of the annual World University Rankings, the reputation league table is based on nothing more than subjective judgement – but it is the considered expert judgement of senior, published academics – the people best placed to know the most about excellence in our universities.

1 Harvard University United States
100.0
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
87.2
3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
80.7
4 Stanford University United States
72.1
5 University of California, Berkeley United States
71.6
6 University of Oxford United Kingdom
71.2
7 Princeton University United States
37.9
8 University of Tokyo Japan
35.6
9 University of California, Los Angeles United States
33.8
10 Yale University United States
32.4
11 California Institute of Technology United States
29.6
12 University of Michigan United States
23.2
13 Imperial College London United Kingdom
22.2
14 University of Chicago United States
21.0
15 Columbia University United States
20.7
16 Cornell University United States
20.0
16 University of Toronto Canada
20.0
18 Johns Hopkins University United States
17.8
19 University of Pennsylvania United States
16.3
20 Kyoto University Japan
15.9

I’m not sure what to make of this ranking, considering how low the numbers go, and the fact that Harvard is 100. Perhaps they gave a large amount of academics a list of 50 universities and had them rank them themselves.

Subject Rankings

Arts and Humanities

That Japan didn’t even make the top 50 is sad, but not entirely surprising when I think of how creatively crippling the Japanese education system is.

1 Stanford University US
91.5
2 Columbia University US
90.6
3 University of Chicago US
89.9
3 Harvard University US
89.9
5 University of Pennsylvania US
87.8
6 University of Oxford UK
86.6
7 University of California, Berkeley US
85.7
8 University of Cambridge UK
85.2
9 Princeton University US
85.1
10 University College London UK
84.9
11 University of Edinburgh UK
84.7
12 New York University US
84.3
13 Australian National University Australia
83.4
14 Duke University US
83.3
15 Yale University US
82.8
16 University of California, Los Angeles US
81.2
17 University of Toronto Canada
81.1
18 University of Michigan US
80.1
19 Cornell University US
79.0
20 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey US 78.2

Health and (Pre)Clinical

The University of Tokyo only made it to the 32nd spot, which is surprising considering how much research is done in the medical fields in Japan.

1 University of Oxford UK
91.7
2 Harvard University US
90.4
3 University of Cambridge UK
88.6
4 Johns Hopkins University US
87.7
5 Imperial College London UK
87.6
6 University College London UK
86.2
7 Duke University US
85.1
8 Stanford University US
84.6
9 University of California, Berkeley US
84.4
10 University of Washington US
84.1
11 Yale University US
83.8
12 Washington University in St Louis US
83.7
13 University of California, Los Angeles US
83.6
14 McMaster University Canada
82.8
15 Columbia University US
82.6
16 University of Pennsylvania US
82.0
16 University of Melbourne Australia
82.0
18 McGill University Canada
81.3
19 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill US
81.0
20 King’s College London UK 80.4

Technology and Engineering

I suppose it makes perfect sense that California Institute of Technology ranks #1 on this.

1 California Institute of Technology US
94.4
2 Princeton University US
91.9
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology US
91.4
4 University of California, Berkeley US
90.2
5 University of Cambridge UK
89.4
5 Stanford University US
89.4
7 University of California, Los Angeles US
88.4
8 ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich Switzerland
86.1
9 Georgia Institute of Technology US
85.0
10 Imperial College London UK
84.6
11 University of Oxford UK
84.1
12 National University of Singapore Singapore
83.4
13 University of Texas at Austin US
82.7
14 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
81.7
15 Carnegie Mellon University US
81.3
16 Northwestern University US
80.7
17 University of California, Santa Barbara US
79.5
18 Cornell University US
79.0
19 University of Michigan US
77.7
20 University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign US 75.8

Life Sciences

1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology US
91.6
2 University of Cambridge UK
91.2
3 Harvard University US
90.9
4 University of Oxford UK
90.1
5 Stanford University US
89.3
6 University of California, Berkeley US
88.6
7 Johns Hopkins University US
87.9
8 Princeton University US
87.2
9 Yale University US
86.3
10 Imperial College London UK
83.8
11 Duke University US
81.9
12 University of Chicago US
81.6
13 Cornell University US
80.7
14 Columbia University US
80.6
15 University of California, Los Angeles US
80.3
16 ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich Switzerland
80.2
17 University of California, San Diego US
79.1
18 University of Michigan US
79.0
19 University College London UK
78.9
20 University of British Columbia Canada 78.8

Physical Science

1 California Institute of Technology US
93.4
2 University of California, Berkeley US
92.4
3 Princeton University US
92.1
4 Stanford University US
91.1
5 Harvard University US
90.9
6 University of Cambridge UK
89.8
7 Massachusetts Institute of Technology US
89.5
8 University of Chicago US
88.0
9 University of California, Los Angeles US
86.0
10 University of Oxford UK
85.5
11 ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich Switzerland
85.1
12 Cornell University US
84.8
13 Yale University US
84.4
14 University of Washington US
83.2
15 University of California, Santa Barbara US
82.1
16 Columbia University US
81.7
17 Imperial College London UK
81.5
18 University of Texas at Austin US
80.0
19 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Germany
79.2
20 University of Michigan US
78.2

Social Sciences

1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology US
93.0
2 University of Chicago US
92.7
3 Stanford University US
92.2
4 University of Oxford UK
91.2
4 Harvard University US
91.2
6 Yale University US
90.3
6 Princeton University US
90.3
8 University of Pennsylvania US
90.0
9 Columbia University US
88.8
10 University of Cambridge UK
88.5
11 University College London UK
87.2
12 University of California, Los Angeles US
86.7
12 University of Michigan US
86.7
14 University of California, Berkeley US
86.4
15 Northwestern University US
85.9
16 Duke University US
85.1
17 New York University US
84.1
18 London School of Economics and Political Science UK
82.9
19 University of British Columbia Canada
82.4
20 Australian National University Australia
81.3

Conclusion

As interesting as these numbers are, we should not overstate how informative they are. For one thing, the experience of an individual cannot be informed by the average of students among hundreds of departments. Just because there are people in medical school and business school who are loving or hating their experience, does not mean that I will be the same way if I’m an art student or music major. And some things are obviously a lot more or less important to each individual, so no one should get too hung up on these rankings when it comes to actually picking a university.

These rankings are a nice thing to keep in mind, but in my experience, you can get a great education from universities that are barely on the map. As long as it’s an accredited institution (don’t even think about going to a non-accredited one), students should think about other things, such as the location, the living arrangements, and what the program you are interested in is like. They rarely have rankings for graduate school, so that’s also something to keep in mind if you want to continue your education.

The numbers above are not completely meaningless, but the truth is that no one really knows what they mean. There are so many factors involved in post-secondary education that it’s hard to believe any of it. So ultimately, they’re just numbers. As the Times Higher Education themselves responsibly and aptly say:

It is, of course, rather crude to reduce universities to a single number.

This entry was posted in Aggregators/lists/rankings, Japan and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Top 50 Universities of 2012-2013 (World, Continent, and Subject Rankings)

  1. Charlene says:

    Thanks a ton for the list! am going to Switzerland and already chose the best university from the list!@ Charlene

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