UZH in International Rankings

The University of Zurich is placed among the top 100 institutions of higher learning in the most important rankings. The following pages provide a detailed overview of the methodology and data used in the Shanghai Ranking, QS Rankings and the Times World University Rankings.

1. UZH in the Academic Ranking of World Universities

  Academic Ranking of World Universities (Top 500)
University 2014 2015 2016 2017
University of Zurich 56 54 54 58
ETH Zurich 19 20 19 19
University of Geneva 66 58 53 60
EPF Lausanne 96 101-150 92 76
University of Basel 90 87 101-150 95
University of Bern 151-200 151-200 101-150 101-150
University of Lausanne 151-200 201-300 201-300 151-200
University of Fribourg - - 301-400 401-500
University of St. Gallen - - - -

In the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities (formerly the Shanghai Ranking), the University of Zurich is placed 58th, putting it among the 100 best universities in the world. In Switzerland it ranks second-best, ahead of the University of Geneva, which slipped back seven places to 60th worldwide. ETH Zurich remains in 18th place as the best university in Continental Europe. Also ranked among the world’s 100 best universities are EPFL Lausanne (76th) and, for the first time, the University of Basel (95th).

The Academic Ranking of World Universities, which has been in existence since 2003, rates more than 1,000 institutions worldwide on the basis of factors including the number of Nobel Laureates and Fields Medalists among alumni or employed researchers, papers published in Nature or Science, and Highly Cited Researchers at the university. In addition there is a single indicator that takes account of the size of universities by measuring the publication performance of teaching staff. Because of its methodology the ranking is very controversial. Nevertheless, it is one of the better-known rankings worldwide and enjoys a great response among the general public.

2. UZH in the QS Rankings

  QS Rankings (Top 800)  
University 2016 2017 2018
University of Zurich 85 80 73
ETH Zurich 8 10
University of Geneva 89 95 98
EPF Lausanne 14 14 12
University of Basel 139 141 149
University of Bern 166 181 167
University of Lausanne 143 138 146
University of St. Gallen 329 288 372

In this year’s QS World University Rankings, the University of Zurich has moved up seven places and is now ranked 73rd of the over 950 higher education institutions assessed. This means that UZH now numbers among the top 8% of all universities included in the ranking, and in the top 1% of all universities in the world.

UZH rated particularly well in the indicators student-instructor ratio (43) and proportion of international instructors (44). The data on the student-to-instructor ratio are surprisingly positive both on the national and international stage: As Switzerland’s largest university, UZH is in first place; worldwide, the University improved by 10 ranks. Regarding the proportion of international members of the teaching staff, UZH – along with all Swiss higher education institutions – is a global leader. Other universities have made ground in the indicator “proportion of international students,” in which UZH ranks 18 places lower than in the previous year.

Another positive result is in the survey of employees: UZH is now ranked 19 places higher. These changes are most likely related to a modification in the methodology used by the QS Ranking. Now, statements by domestic (i.e. Swiss) employees are weighted the same as those by international employees.

3. UZH in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings

  THE Rankings (Top 400)
University 2015 2016 2017
University of Zurich 104 106 136
ETH Zurich 9 9 10
University of Geneva 131 137 130
EPF Lausanne 31 30 38
University of Basel 101 98 95
University of Bern 120 110 105
University of Lausanne 144 151 152
University of Fribourg 201-250 251-300 201-250

How the THE Rankings work

The new Times Higher Education (THE) Ranking ranks the University of Zurich 136th worldwide. UZH has dropped 30 places compared to the past year.

According to the Times Higher Education (THE) Ranking, a deterioration in an establishment’s position is due mainly to three factors: the reputation of its teaching, the productivity of its researchers, and the frequency of citation of academic papers.

The THE Ranking itself says that the deterioration in UZH’s position is primarily due to its performance in a survey of teaching. With no access to the survey data or precise details of the evaluation, UZH cannot verify this indicator.

According to the THE Ranking, there has been a massive deterioration in the productivity of researchers at UZH, with the University managing only around half the number of points it earned for this metric last year.

The indicator is based on an analysis conducted over a period of five years, which shifts one year forward for each ranking. Against this backdrop, the strong decline in publication activity is hard to understand without further analysis. Especially since other rankings measured in terms of the number of researchers show an increase in the number of publications from UZH.

While the decline in UZH’s citation rate since last year is only minimal (0.5 out of 100 points). Since the universities are very close together in that field, this has had a major impact on its ranking, which has fallen from 101 to 133.

4. UZH in the US News & World Report Best Universities Rankings

  US News Rankings (Top 600)
University 2015 2016 2017
University of Zurich 77 70 59
ETH Zurich 27 35 25
University of Geneva 104 91 88
EPF Lausanne 58 40 36
University of Basel 132 131 120
University of Bern 140 143 116
University of Lausanne 216 180 179
University of Fribourg 507 559 529
This year's ranking again shows indicators rating an entire institution as well as in individual subject areas. Both ranking types are based on the same 13 indicators, which are weighted differently depending on the subject area. In addition to evaluating the global and regional reputation of a university, bibliometric indicators and assessments of education achievements are analyzed in the rankings.
Ranking indicator Weighting
Global research reputation 12.5%
Regional research reputation 12.5%
Publications 10%
Books 2.5%
Conferences 2.5%
Normalized citation impact 10%
Total citations 7.5%
Number of publications that are among the 10 percent most cited 12.5%
Percentage of total publications that are among the 10 percent most cited 10%
International collaboration 5%
Percentage of total publications with international collaboration * 5%
Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1 percent most cited in their respective field 5%
Percentage of total publications that are among the top 1 percent most highly cited papers 5%

* This indicator was added this year for the first time. 

Rankings of Institutions: In the Top 100 in 10 of 13 Indicators

UZH achieved an excellent overall rank of 59 worldwide, and 15th within Europe. Only two Swiss higher education institutions achieved higher rankings (ETH Zurich at 25, and EPFL at 36), and UZH is Switzerland’s best-ranked comprehensive university, ahead of the University of Geneva, which was ranked 88th.  The welcome results are mainly due to excellent performance – when compared globally – in the following indicators:

2017 Global Rank Indicator
21 Regional research reputation
43 Percentage of total publications with international collaboration
56 Number of publications that are among the 10 percent most cited
57 Percentage of total publications that are among the 10 percent most cited
60 Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1 percent most cited in their respective field
64 Total citations
73 Percentage of highly cited papers that are among the top 1 percent most cited in their respective field
75 Normalized citation impact
76 Publications
98 Global research reputation

Overall, UZH numbers among the 100 best universities worldwide in 10 of 13 indicators. That these indicators focus largely on actual achievements in research rather than reputation underline the high quality of scholarship at UZH.

Subject Rankings: In the Top 100 in 16 of 18 Subject Areas

In the rankings of individual subjects, UZH was rated among the 100 best universities worldwide in 16 of 18 subject areas.

2017 Rank Subject Area
18 Immunology
22 Biology and Biochemistry
30 Neuroscience and Behavior
32 Plant and Animal Science
44 Environment/Ecology
51 Psychiatry/Psychology
57 Clinical Medicine
65 Economics and Business
61 Geosciences
66 Microbiology
64 Physics
65 Molecular Biology and Genetics
96 Space Science