ETH Zurich remains in top 20 universities list

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

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