Utrecht rises in Shanghai ranking


Utrecht University now occupies the 47th spot in the new Shanghai ranking. Last year, the UU was ranked 18 places lower.

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It’s the highest the UU has risen in the Shanghai ranking since 2008, when it also made it to the 47th spot. In earlier years, the UU had been up even higher, with as record the 39th spot in 2004.

The UU is once again the highest-ranked Dutch university in the Chinese ranking. Groningen, Rotterdam and Leiden are also present in the top 100. The list is dominated by American and British universities; Harvard is at #1, followed by Stanford and Cambridge.

The Shanghai Ranking (official title ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities’) started in 2003 and has since become one of the best-known university rankings in the world. The most important criteria are the scientific achievements of scientists and alumni of more than twelve hundred universities: are their papers published in important magazines, are they often cited, have they won Nobel prizes or Fields Medals?

Utrecht is mostly successful because its researchers are often cited in other publications: it has a top-30 score in this criterion.

There are several similar rankings in which the UU is also listed. Those are often based on slightly different criteria. Compared to those rankings, the UU often scores just a little bit better in the Shanghai ranking, according to an overview on the university’s website. The UU manages an average ranking of # 73 in the most important rankings.

In academia, these types of rankings are not without controversy. Scientists are said to be forced to enact all sorts of tricks to improve their score, which wouldn’t serve science itself. Education, too, may suffer, as it barely counts in the rankings’ calculations.

At the same time, for international students and PhD candidates, a high position in one of the rankings is often a factor in choosing a university.


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