Top 10 or 100 lists of universities or colleges are the type of thing people in higher education love to hate and hate to love. Times Higher Education from the U.K. recently published its list of the Top 200 World Universities for 2009. Of course there is no shortage of American universities on the list and the usual cadre of big names are all comfortably near the top.
What always strikes me about these things is how they always vary from year to year, yet I wonder how much has changed at the institutions themselves during this time. Take the top 20 – most of which are from the U.S. and U.K. – is there really a major difference in the quality of the education between them? You have to wonder how much effort has been expended at some of these institutions in order to move one or two places on the list – just to edge out their rival.
Another striking aspect of these lists is how some institutions seem to swing wildly up or down by as many as 20 or 30 places in a given year. I have a hard time considering what changed at such an institution in so little time to warrant such a movement in ranking. In fact, I’d argue that the pace of change in higher education simply is not fast enough for the results of any change that may have been implemented to be felt in that short of a time.
To the extent that such lists spur both institutions and people to strive for excellence, than I suppose they are a good thing. However, I know quite a few institutions that do not make it onto such lists that nonetheless provide students with a myriad of opportunity and high-quality educations – including community colleges.
The top 20 of the Top 200 World Universities:
|2007 Rank||2006 Rank||Name||Country||Peer Review Score||Employer Review Score||Staff/Student Score||Citations/Staff Score||International Staff Score||International Student Score||Overall Score|
|2||3||University of Cambridge||UK||100||100||100||89||98||96||99.6|
|4||7||University College London||UK||98||99||100||90||96||99||99.0|
|5=||6||Imperial College London||UK||100||100||100||80||98||100||97.8|
|5=||4||University of Oxford||UK||100||100||100||80||96||97||97.8|
|7||8||University of Chicago||US||100||99||97||88||77||83||96.8|
|9||9||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||US||100||100||89||100||31||95||96.1|
|10||5||California Institute of Technology||US||99||72||87||100||100||89||95.9|
|12||11||University of Pennsylvania||US||96||99||85||98||82||60||94.2|
|13||13=||Johns Hopkins University||US||98||79||100||99||28||71||94.1|
|17||16||Australian National University||Australia||100||91||75||74||99||92||90.5|
|19||18||University of Michigan||US||99||99||85||81||57||52||89.9|
|20=||23||University of Edinburgh||UK||97||99||84||65||93||86||89.3|
|20=||24||ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)||Switzerland||97||80||55||99||100||94||89.3|