ETH Zurich remains in top 20 universities list

Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) slipped in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) world university rankings but it remained the only institution in the top 20 from continental Europe.

ETH Zurich remains in top 20 universities list
One of ETH Zurich's buildings. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

ETH Zurich placed 14th, down from 12th the previous year in the 2013-14 rankings released late Wednesday night and dominated as in past years by American and British universities.

The California Institute of Technology held on to top spot for a third straight year.

Harvard and Oxford tied for second place, followed by Stanford, MIT, Princeton, Cambridge, University of California at Berkley and University of Chicago.

Founded in 1855 and famous for producing 21 Nobel Prize winners, ETH Zurich was the highest-ranked institution outside the US and the UK, according to the rankings, which are determined in part by research paper citations.

Switzerland’s second-ranked university, Lausanne’s federal institute of technology, EPFL, rose to 37th place on the list from 40th place a year earlier.

All told, seven Swiss universities cracked the top 200 list, unchanged from 2012-13, with the University of Basel leaping to 74th ranking from 142nd.

Among other Swiss institutions, the University of Zurich slid to 121st from 89th, the University of Geneva edged up to 124th from 133th and the University of Lausanne came 132th, down from 130th.

The University of Bern, meanwhile, slipped to 157th place from 151st.

THE calls its university rankings “the most comprehensive, carefully calibrated and highly respected global league tables”, although they often come in for a bashing for their Anglo-Saxon bias.

That is not likely to change with the journal’s assessment this year of French universities, none of which make the top 50 group.

“Across France there has been a significant decrease in research paper citations, the most heavily weighted ranking indicator,” THE Rankings editor Phil Blaty said in a statement.

“With the global academic community increasingly using English as the language of global scholarship, these disappointing results are likely to intensify debate about the promotion of English in French institutions.”

The journal warned generally of “alarming signs across Europe” with universities slipping in most countries outside of Scandinavia, a region which bucked the tide.

At the same time top institutions from China, South Korea, Singapore and Japan rose in the rankings.

THE uses 13 separate performance indicators to examine a university’s strengths in teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

The rankings use data independently collected, analysed and verified by Thomson Reuters. 

For more information check here.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Zurich’s ETH uni overtakes Cambridge in new global rankings

Zurich’s ETH technical institute has further consolidated its place as one of the world's best universities by leapfrogging the UK’s Cambridge University to take sixth place in the latest QS Quacquarelli Symonds global rankings for 2020.

Zurich's ETH uni overtakes Cambridge in new global rankings
Photo: ETH Zurich

The ranking is the highest yet achieved by ETH Zurich in the ranking for the study of 48 different subjects at the world’s universities.

In coming sixth, ETH is also the top-ranking university on continental Europe. In Europe as a whole, only the UK’s Oxford University scored higher – in fourth place overall.

Read also: 'Switzerland has third best university system in the world'

Meanwhile, the very top of the table was dominated by US universities, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) coming top, followed by Stanford University and Harvard University. In fifth was California Institute of Technology.

In terms of other Swiss universities, Lausanne’s EPFL technical institute also had a good result, moving up from 22nd place last year to 18th, while Zurich University was also in the QS global top 100 – in 76th place.

Europe's strongest research ecosystem

In a statement on Switzerland’s performance, QS analyst Ben Sowter said: “The Swiss higher education has consolidated its position as Europe’s strongest research ecosystem.”

He noted that Switzerland’s success was based on its international perspective and on its recognition of the need to invest in both human capital and research and development.

At the same time, the country’s very high standard of living made it an attractive destination for talent, he added.

Meanwhile, ETH President Joël Mesot on Wednesday reacted positively to the news of the institute’s QS ranking.

'A great result for Switzerland'

“We are very pleased about this great ranking. It provides yet more proof that ETH Zurich is on the right track in teaching, research and technology transfer,” Mesot said in a statement.

The ETH president also noted results of these rankings needed to be taken with caution.

Read also: 'A short-term L permit is almost useless for non-EU graduates of Swiss unis'

“Nevertheless, we can be very proud. Particularly of the fact that the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology – ETH Zurich and EPFL – have placed very highly in all the rankings for years.”

Mesot also warned Switzerland against resting on his laurels.

He said the country needed to “work actively to ensure that the good financial and political framework for the ETH Domain and for Switzerland as a science hub remain in place in the coming years”.

ETH beats Cambridge on citations per faculty

The QS rankings measure six performance indicators: academic reputation (weighted at 40 percent of the total result); employer reputation (10 percent), faculty/student ratio (20 percent), citations per faculty (20 percent) and international faculty ratio/international student ratio (5 percent each).

While ETH Zurich and the University of Cambridge had similar scores for most of these metrics, ETH did substantially better than the UK university in terms of citation per faculty, scoring 98.4 out of 100 against 74.2 for Cambridge.

The citation per faculty indicator is determined by looking at the total number of citations received by all papers produced by an institution across a five-year period by the number of faculty members at that institution.

Papers in different fields are weighted differently to prevent life science papers skewing results. In 2015, the life sciences accounted for nearly half of all academic papers published, according to QS.

In the rival Times Higher Education World University Rankings, ETH Zurich is currently ranked as the 11th best university in the world.