Times Higher Education Rankings

Key Facts

Times Higher Education

Published by Selection Criteria
Times Higher Education (UK)
Bachelor's degree programs in more than one discipline

More than 1,000 publications in WoS in the past five years (= time under consideration)

The top 400 universities are listed
Data Basis & Methodology Indicators
Peer surveys on research and teaching

Bibliometrics based on Thomson Reuters, Web of Science (WoS)

Secondary analysis of data on universities
Reputation of teaching15%
Reputation of research18%
Publications & citations 36%
Third-party funding 6%
International outlook 7.5%
Student-instructor ratio 4.5%
Salary of teaching staff 2.25%



In the Times World University Rankings, reputation surveys make up a third of the overall rank and 100% of the subject-specific rank. Roughly 16,000 academics are asked to assess the quality of teaching and research at universities.
The method, however, has the inherent problem of subjectivity. And, in addition to the danger of bias, academics are generally not informed well enough to fairly rate another institution for the reason that most academics are only personally familiar with a small number of universities. Notwithstanding the impossibility of the task, they are asked by the editors to assess the quality of teaching and research at other institutions of higher learning, leading to the absurd situation that researchers have rated university departments that do not exist.

Publications and citations

The Times rankings are based on data from Thomson Reuters Web of Science (WoS). Many critics point out that the data are not representative of research achievements in a variety of fields: the database only contains a limited type of publication (mainly articles in journals), while completely ignoring other important publications (e.g. monographs). In addition, journals and publications in English are heavily favored, resulting in a clear under-representation of research output in other languages. Finally, the indexes in the database disregard differences in publishing practices in the various disciplines.

A positive aspect is that only publications from the past five years are part of the assessment. This helps to ensure that the current situation is at the center of the rating, and that younger academics are measured fairly against people who have been publishing for years, if not decades.

International outlook

International diversity is measured by the number of students, members of the teaching staff and other employees at universities from abroad. The Times ranking disregards official country policy on citizenship and naturalization, the size of a country, or whether or not a country is monolingual, bilingual or multilingual – which leads to some interesting results: Swiss universities are generally given a high ranking in the category "international outlook", and occupy the top three places worldwide. This result is due to Switzerland's small size and its multilingual character as well as to the comparatively restrictive laws on earning Swiss citizenship – factors which put the overall assessment of Switzerland’s internationalism into a different light.