We continue to enjoy writing about the Times Higher Ed World Rankings because unlike most U.S. ranking publications and the current trend of disparaging academic research at public institutions, the Times rankings embrace research as “the single most influential of the 13 indicators,” as the Times “looks at the role of universities in spreading new knowledge and ideas.”
Note: Because research, as measured by publications, can vary significantly from year to year, there is more fluidity in the Times world rankings than in, say, the U.S News rankings of national colleges. For this reason, our list below shows the Times rankings of American public universities for three years: 2012, 2013, and 2014.
It is notable that this year American universities hold 46 of the top 100 spots in the rankings, up from 43 last year, showing that despite years of national criticism, the world still holds our universities in the highest regard.
Of the 46 U.S. universities in the top 100, public universities account for 21 places and private universities for another 25. In last year’s rankings, publics also held 24 places and private American schools held 19.
Private U.S. schools occupy 16 of the top 50 world places this year, while public U.S. universities hold 13 of the top 50 places. The top five public universities this year are UC Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, Washington, and UT Austin.
Deserving of special mention are Penn State, which rose from 61 in 2013 to 49 in 2014, and Purdue, which improved its ranking to 62 this year versus 69 last year.2
The Times surveys 400 institutions, so being in the top 100 is certainly a noteworthy achievement. The continuing worldwide respect for U.S. higher education is even more remarkable, given the number of detractors in this country.
The Times rankings do not ignore metrics for class size and financial resources as they focus on research, but they certainly do not make them determinative. The downside to the Times list is that it does not include a metric for graduation rates.
We believe that they are most useful in tandem with some of the other rankings that place more emphasis on class size as well as graduation rates. In effect, the Times rankings offset some of the shortcomings of the U.S. News rankings, and the U.S. News rankings do the same for the Times rankings.
The list below shows the U.S. public universities that are among the top 100 universities in the world, according to the Times rankings. Following the name of the university, we will show the world rank for 2014 first, followed by the 2013 rank and the 2012 rank.
U.S. Public Universities in the Top 100 Worldwide:
UC Berkeley 2014 rank (8); 2013 rank (9); 2012 rank (10)
UCLA (12), (13), (13)
Michigan (18), (20), (18)
Washington (25), (24), (25)
UT Austin (27), (25), (29)
Georgia Tech (28), (25), (24)
Illinois (29), (33), (31)
Wisconsin (30), (30), (27)
UC Santa Barbara (33), (35), (35)
UC San Diego (40), (34), (33)
Minnesota (46), (47), (42)
North Carolina (47), (42), (43)
Penn State (49), (61), (51)
UC Davis (52), (44), (38)
Ohio State (59), (53), (57)
Purdue (62), (69), (98)
UC Irvine (93), (96), (86)
Colorado (97), (91), (77)