ETH Zurich has ‘best reputation’ in continental Europe

Switzerland’s federal technology institute ETH Zurich has the best reputation in continental Europe, according to the World Reputation Rankings 2017 carried out by the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE).

ETH Zurich has 'best reputation' in continental Europe
Photo: ETH Zurich
Based on an opinion survey of leading academics, the ranking asked scholars to name 15 universities that they believe are the best for research and teaching, based on their own experience.
The results were collated in a reputational ranking of the world’s top 100 most powerful global university brands as judged by those best-placed to know, according to THE. 
ETH Zurich placed 22nd, behind mostly US and UK universities but ahead of any other institution in continental Europe.
American universities Harvard, MIT and Standford made up the top three ahead of Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, which placed joint fourth.
Tokyo University in Japan was the highest non-US/UK institution, placing 11th.
Behind ETH Zurich, Moscow University ranked 30th and Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) 38th.
Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) also made it into the top 50, at 45th.
In its analysis THE said some Asian universities were now considered more prestigious among top academics than many distinguished Western institutions. 
Tsinghua University in China jumped into the top 15 for the first time and Peking University made its top 20 debut, both overtaking Cornell University in the US and the UK’s Imperial College London.
By contrast, top universities in Belgium, France and the Netherlands have lost ground, it said.
But there is a disparity between reputation and actual performance, it added, since Asian universities do not appear as highly in the THE World University Rankings, which measure research performance.
ETH Zurich is regularly named among the world’s best universities. 
Last September it was crowned the best university in continental Europe and eighth in the world by the QS World University Rankings.
In February ETH Zurich and EPFL were named the world’s most ‘international’ universities in another THE ranking.

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Why ETH Zurich has been ranked the ‘best university in continental Europe’

A new international survey of universities has ranked Zurich’s Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) the highest in the world outside the US and the UK. How does this school excel?

Why ETH Zurich has been ranked the 'best university in continental Europe'
ETH's main hall. Photo by

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022 have placed ETH in the 15th place (out of 1,600 surveyed worldwide). The school dropped from the 14th-place ranking the previous year.

Universities in the United Kingdom and the United States hold all of the top rankings ahead of ETH Zurich.

But as the top 14 are not in continental Europe, this means ETH has the unofficial title of the of best in Europe.

What is ETH and what does it do?

It is a public research university focusing exclusively on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

It has a “sister” school located in Lausanne, the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), which specialises in natural sciences and engineering. 

The EPFL ranked in the 40th place in the survey.

Why has ETH scored so high in the study?

“Our strategy is derived from our federal mandate to conduct fundamental research, train specialists and transfer new knowledge to the economy and society,” said ETH President Joël Mesot.

University ranking methodology is based on scores for high-​level indicators relating to teaching, research, international perspective, and collaboration with industry.

“ETH’s overall scores show improvement in teaching, research, and publication citations”, the university’s rankings expert Paul Cross said.

However, it dropped slightly in terms of industry income and international outlook.

“Competition is fierce at the top tier of the rankings”, Cross noted. 

Here are some interesting facts about ETH:

  • It was founded in 1855 by the Swiss government to train engineers and scientists.
  • Today 18,000 students from over 100 different countries study at ETZ, 3,800 of whom are doctoral students.
  • So far, 21 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researchers who have or had a connection with ETH Zurich.
  • While tuition in the top-ranking schools in the UK — Oxford and Cambridge — costs well over 10,000 francs each year, and in the in the US universities, such as Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Caltech, the annual tuition exceeds 50,000 a year, at ETH it is 1,460 francs.

In all, Switzerland is home to seven of the world’s top universities. Aside from ETH and EPFL, they are University of Zurich (75th place), University of Bern (101st), Universities of Basel and Geneva (103rd), University of Lausanne (176th).

Complete ranking can be seen here.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland leads the world in innovation (Partner content)