The Times Higher Education Quality Ranking: the Methodology

How do institutions come to be ranked among the world’s top 200? Here is a brief look at the indicators used by Times Higher Education for their annual ranking of universities.

There are five performance indicators:

  1. Teaching (the learning environment)
  2. Research (volume, income and reputation)
  3. Citations (research influence)
  4. International outlook (staff, students and research)
  5. Industry income (knowledge transfer)

higher-education-quality-quantified-080916-largeHigher Education Quality Quantified (source: Times Higher Education)

(1) The teaching component makes up 30% of the finally ranking and is based on extensive surveying which looks at the following areas: reputation survey, staff-to-student ratio, doctorate-to-bachelor’s ratio, doctorates-awarded- to-academic-staff ratio, and institutional income: 2.25%

(2) The research component also counts for 30% of the final ranking and is also a peer based survey, covering: reputation, research income and research productivity

(3) Citations, or research influence, is a further 30% of the final ranking. This is based on calculating the number of times a university’s published work is cited by other scholars internationally. The supplier of this data, Elsevier, examined 56 million citations.

(4) International outlook for staff, students, and research counts for 7.5% of the overall ranking, and is largely an indicator of the ability to attract international students and staff. This is based on a number of ratios: international-to-domestic-student ratio, international-to-domestic-staff ratio, and international collaboration.

(5) The final category is industry income, which makes up 2.5% of the final ranking, and is an assessment of knowledge transfer. A university’s ability to help industry with innovations, inventions and consultancy is a core mission of the contemporary global academy. This category seeks to capture such knowledge-transfer activity by looking at how much research income an institution earns from industry scaled against the number of academic staff it employs.

Photo credit: “”. Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from Times Higher Education.


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