Harvard remains CWUR World Rankings top university in 2016/17

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The first major university ranking of the year released is the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), who publishes their list way before the start of the new academic year. On July 11, 2016, the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) released their ranking of the Top 1000 Universities in the world. Harvard topped their list for the fifth time. The CWUR is one of only two major rankings that are not published by a western country either in the United States or the United Kingdom. CWUR is centered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The 2016 edition is the fifth year CWUR has released their rankings; the relatively new listing first started in 2012. It includes their ranking of the Top 1000 Universities. After Harvard, the rest of the top three remains the same as last year with Stanford second and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) third.

Two British universities round out the top five as last year, with the University of Cambridge in fourth place closely followed by the University of Oxford rounding out the top five. The top 10 had little movement with one exception Yale reemerged to reclaim the tenth place after dropping to eleventh place last year, while Cornell moved back out of the top ten down to twelfth place.

The US dominated the CWUR rankings as it does with most other world university rankings. There were 224 American schools in the top 1000. The CWUR ranking shows how preeminent Asian schools are becoming globally, here they follow the US in the most school represented an honor usually reserved for the United Kingdom. There are 90 universities from China and 74 from Japan on the list with Britain in fourth with only 65 schools. The UK however, is the only other country to break American dominance in the top ten. CWUR’s Nadim Mahassen indicated, “In 2016, 60 countries — more than ever before — feature in the top 1,000. We hope to see more countries represented in the future.”

CWUR also includes rankings by country, with lists of the best universities in the major countries in all the world’s regions and they correspond to the rankings on the international list. Therefore, Harvard also tops the USA list, while the number four University of Cambridge is the United Kingdom’s top school.

The first school to make the global list outside of the US and the UK was Japan’s the University of Tokyo at number thirteen, the top ranking Asian school; Japan has two universities in the top 20. The first university ranking from the European continent is Switzerland’s Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, which ranks at 23rd down three places from last year. In Oceania, Australia has the top school with the University of Melbourne at 89.

The University of Toronto is Canada’s top university but only ranks at 30 on the international list, up two from last year. McGill University sits at number two in Canada, but only 42 internationally. In the Middle East, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel is the highest-ranking university, coming in at a high number 26 internationally, down three from last year; Hebrew U usually ranks as Israel’s top university.

CWUR centered in Saudi Arabia emphasizes universities located in the Middle East, which is mostly overlooked in other international rankings. Saudi Arabia’s King Saud University at 602 tops the Arab World’s list, Saudi Arabia’s country and the GCC Countries ranking lists.

The key to their methodology is objectivity; all the eight indicators are backed by solid, quantifiable statistics emphasizing graduate success and faculty research. The primary indicators account for 25 percent of the score each and include Quality of Education focused on alumni awards, alumni employment calculating the number of graduates who became CEOs at major companies, Quality of Faculty calculating the awards the faculty has garnered. The remaining indicators account for five percent each and emphasize faculty research and include publications, influence, citations, broad impact using the “university’s h-Index,” and patents.

According to the description of their methodology, “The Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR) publishes the only global university ranking that measures the quality of education and training of students along with the prestige of the faculty members and the quality of their research without relying on surveys and university data submissions.”

Mahassen says CWUR’s ranking is “superior” than most of the international rankings because it bases the results entirely on the quantifiable. Mahassen explicitly expressed that the CWUR is better than Times Higher Education World University Rankings because they rely partially on reputation, and is fairer to all disciplines than ARWU because they rely on scientific publications in their ranking methodology.

Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) top 10:

1 Harvard University, USA (1)
2 Stanford University, USA (2)
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA (3)
4 University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (4)
5 University of Oxford, United Kingdom (5)
6 Columbia University, USA (6)
7 University of California, Berkeley, USA (7)
8 University of Chicago, USA (8)
9 Princeton University, USA (9)
10. Yale University, USA (11)

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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