The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne is grouped among universities less than 50 years old that have risen the most in the THE’s World University rankings, traditionally dominated by institutions founded between the 11th and 19th centuries.
Typically, the older a university is, the better it tends to do in rankings.
But EPFL, founded in 1969, is among those bucking the trend, THE said.
Switzerland’s second ranked university behind its older sister federal institute, ETH Zurich (founded in the mid-19th century), it ranked 34th in the World University Rankings for 2014-15.
That marked a rise from its 48th place in the 2010-2011 rankings.
The technology and science university, with 9,921 students, is among a group of rising stars that have shown what others developed over centuries “can be achieved in a matter of decades”.
It is ranked sixth out of the top seven behind Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (founded in 1991); Maastricht University in the Netherlands (1976); University of Warwick in the UK (1965); Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (1971); and Spain’s Pompeu Fabra University (1990).
Just behind EPFL is Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, founded in 1991.
The Swiss university like the others in the group has racked up high scores in three areas, THE says.
These include ‘citation impact’ — how much a university’s research papers are being referenced by other academics, a measure of the influence its research has on the rest of the world.
Another category is ‘income from industry’ – how much companies are working with academics and applying their research to the real-world.
A third area is ‘international outlook’; a measure of how many international students and staff a university attracts, and how much it is collaborating on international research papers with other institutions.
“The average age of the top 100 institutions in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings is close to 200 years old, and Oxford University can trace its origins back to 1096,” Phil Baty, editor of the THE rankings, said in a statement.
“But this research shows emphatically that to be world class you don’t have to be old – you just have to be bold.”
With strong leadership and solid financial backing the rising stars have shown that it is possible for visionary young universities to break through.
The list of fastest rising universities was released ahead of the THE’s Young Universities Summit set for April 29th-31st at Dublin City University.
EPFL President Patrick Aebischer is among the speakers announced for the summit when the THE will launch its first 100 Under 50 university rankings.