The Shanghai Rankings were out on the day India celebrated Independence day. Most disappointingly, however, except for Bangalore’s Indian Institute of Science listed at a lowly 327, no other institute in the country figured in the 2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released by the Centre for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
The usual suspects dominated. Harvard University remained number one in the world for the 12th year. The other top nine universities were Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, Cambridge, Princeton, Caltech, Columbia, Chicago and Oxford.
Unlike other listings such as Times Higher Education (THE) and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), the Shanghai rankings adopt only objective indicators and do not bank on reputation surveys. All the data used in the Shanghai Rankings is obtained from third parties and can be checked anytime by anyone.
“THE and QS use data reported by universities,” says Dr Ying Cheng, executive director, Centre for World-Class Universities and associate professor, Graduate School of Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
ARWU also uses six objective indicators to rank world universities. These include the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Reuters, number of articles published in journals of nature and science, number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index - Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index. Per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution is factored in too, to assess its merits.
Though US institutes did well this year too, universities around the globe were fast catching up. Over the past 10 years, the number of top 500 universities from US decreased by around 10% and those from Asia increased by around 20%. Unfortunately, Asian universities needed to do more. “The challenge they face includes language, funding, and also the culture,” Cheng adds.
The highlight of the Shanghai rankings this year was that Swiss universities performed extremely well. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s first appearance in top 100 (96) took the number of Top 100 universities in Switzerland to five, which is the third highest number across all countries. The biggest disappointment? “There are still no Chinese universities making into Top 100,” adds Cheng.
The challenges Asian universities face in moving up the ranks include language, funding and also the culture ----- Dr Ying Cheng, ed, centre for world class universities