By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
This was Harvard’s year, the oldest Ivy League university reigns over another ranking US News and World Report’s fourth annual Best Global Universities Rankings. Harvard.edu
Harvard University remains the top university in the world according to the US News and World Report’s fourth annual Best Global Universities Rankings. US News released the 2018 ranking on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. The biggest international university ranking looked at the best universities by “region, country, and subject” based on “academic research and reputation.” This year’s ranking again grew and increased the number of schools represented from 1000 to 1250 from 74 countries in the world up from 65, with each one receiving a score out of 100.
The top four overall remains the same as last year, but a lot more movement in the rest of the top ten with three new entries. As for the rest of the top three, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) remained second, and Stanford University remains third. The top public school on the list the University of California-Berkeley remains at fourth. Rounding out the top five is the best school outside of the US, the University of Oxford, which is back up to fifth place after a year hiatus.
In the second half of the top ten, the California Institute of Technology, Caltech moved down one to number six. The number two British university the University of Cambridge remains in the seventh spot. Columbia University moves up to eighth place switching with Princeton University, who moves down one to ninth. The tenth spot is busy this year with three universities entering the top 10 at that spot. Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington, and Yale University are all tied for tenth place. The University of Washington replaces top ten departing the University of California-Los Angeles as the second-placed public school at the top of the ranking.
American universities dominated the entire ranking as they did the top 10 with 221 institutions, followed by China with 136 schools and Japan with 76 schools represented continuing the rise of Asian schools. The UK fell to fourth place with 73 schools, in continental Europe Germany had 58 institutions in the ranking. The United Kingdom is the only country to pierce the top ten universities with Oxford University at №5 and the University of Cambridge at №7.
Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, explained the reason behind American domination, “The schools that rank the highest in the Best Global Universities rankings are those that emphasize academic research, including by partnering with international scholars to produce highly cited articles. This is different from the Best Colleges rankings, which measure the overall quality of undergraduate institutions in the U.S. and focus on student outcomes such as graduation and retention rates.”
Meanwhile, Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News commented on the ranking. Narayan expressed, “For more than 30 years, U.S. News has been committed to making higher education data more accessible to prospective students choosing a U.S. university. The Best Global Universities rankings similarly allow consumers to accurately evaluate and compare international schools to find the right fit for them, based on available data.”
The first university that made the list outside of the US and the UK was Canada with the University of Toronto at №20 up from 21 last year. The University of British Columbia came in second as it has been for most of this year’s international lists at №27 up from 31 last year, followed by McGill University in third who also climbed up, but just one to 49 from 50th place last year.
US News’ global universities list covers five regions including African universities. US News’ added to their country-specific rankings four additional countries moving the number up from 38 to 42. The countries added were Argentina, Mexico, Pakistan, and Romania. Among the regions, most of the universities from last year remained their region’s top school with one exception. The University of Oxford is the top school in Europe.
The top European university outside of the UK is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich at number 25 up from 35 last year. In Oceania, the University of Melbourne in Australia took the highest spot for that area at №26 up from 36. The Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil is the best in Latin America, and the top school in Africa is the University of Cape Town. The only change was in Asia, where the National University of Singapore replaced the University of Tokyo as the top school coming at №43.
The ranking also includes subject rankings looking at the top school for research in the field solely. There are 22 subject rankings in all. The subject rankings are dominated by STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and mathematics with the addition of the arts and humanities. The US again dominates the subject rankings, topping the lists in all but six subjects. The six subjects the US does not rank first are computer science, engineering, mathematics, agricultural sciences, materials science, and arts and humanities. Harvard excels in the most subject fields, with 11; other multiple toppers include the University of California — Berkeley and China’s Tsinghua University both with two subjects.
China is moving up with Tsinghua University replacing MIT in the computer science ranking and tops the engineering field in research. The methodology for the subject rankings differs from the university rankings because it looks at academic research in the individual subject. The subject rankings have more schools represented, 125 that are not included in the university rankings. Additionally, 600 schools, 200 more from last year were included in the subjects of chemistry, clinical medicine, engineering, and physics.
US News utilizes data from Clarivate Analytics InCitesTM research analytics solutions, and citations data taken from the Web of Science database. The data “measures a university’s global and regional reputation; academic research performance using bibliometric indicators such as publications, citations and international collaboration; and school-level data on faculty and Ph.D. graduates.” Last year US News’ altered their methodology “to further emphasize excellence in academic research by factoring in the total number of highly cited papers in the top 1 percent of their respective fields and the percentage of a university’s total papers that are among the top 1 percent of most-cited papers.” This year US News again changed their methodology giving marks for universities where their professors collaborated with professors from other countries in authoring research articles.
U.S. News 2018 Best Global Universities Rankings top 10:
Overall Best Global Universities
1. Harvard University (U.S.) (1)
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.) (2)
3. Stanford University (U.S.) (3)
4. University of California-Berkeley (U.S.) (4)
5. University of Oxford (U.K.) (6)
6. California Institute of Technology (U.S.) (5)
7. University of Cambridge (U.K.) (7)
8. Columbia University (U.S.) (9)
9. Princeton University (U.S.) (8)
10. Johns Hopkins University (U.S.) (tie)
10. University of Washington (U.S.) (tie)
10. Yale University (U.S.) (tie)
Agricultural Sciences: Wageningen University and Research Center Netherlands (88 tied)
Arts and Humanities: University of Oxford United Kingdom (5)
Biology and Biochemistry: Harvard University United States Cambridge, MA (1)
Chemistry: University of California — Berkeley United States Berkeley, CA (4)
Clinical Medicine: Harvard University United States Cambridge, MA (1)
Computer Science: Tsinghua University China Beijing (64)
Economics and Business: Harvard University United States Cambridge, MA (1)
Engineering: Tsinghua University China Beijing (64)
Environment/Ecology: University of California — Berkeley United States Berkeley, CA (4)
Geosciences: California Institute of Technology United States Pasadena, CA (6)
Immunology: Harvard University United States Cambridge, MA (1)
Materials Science: Nanyang Technological University Singapore (55)
Mathematics: Pierre and Marie Curie University France Paris (38)
Microbiology: Harvard University United States Cambridge, MA (1)
Molecular Biology and Genetics: Harvard University United States Cambridge, MA (1)
Neuroscience and Behavior: Harvard University United States Cambridge, MA (1)
Pharmacology and Toxicology: Harvard University United States Cambridge, MA (1)
Physics: Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States Cambridge, MA (2)
Plant and Animal Science: University of California — Davis United States Davis, CA (52)
Psychiatry/Psychology: Harvard University United States Cambridge, MA (1)
Social Sciences and Public Health: Harvard University United States Cambridge, MA (1)
Space Science: California Institute of Technology United States Pasadena, CA (6)
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.