Uppsala University places 102nd in new world rankings

23 September 2019

Uppsala University is ranked 102nd place among 1,400 universities throughout the world in the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking of the world’s best universities in 2020.

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2020 includes more than 1,400 universities in 92 countries and is based on 13 indicators in five categories, which are assigned different weights:

  • Teaching – the learning environment 30%
  • Research – volume, income and reputation 30%
  • Citations 30%
  • “Industry income” – innovation 2.5%
  • Internationalisation – teachers, students and research 7.5%

Karolinska Institutet is clearly foremost in this list among Nordic universities, being ranked 41st. Then come four universities around the 100 mark: Lund (96), Helsinki (96), Copenhagen (101) and Uppsala (102).

Uppsala University has lost ground in the rankings compared with last year – moving from 87th place to this year’s 102nd place. Purely in terms of points, it experienced no notable decline within any specific category compared with the previous year. The main factors that caused Uppsala University to slip in the overall ranking are slightly worse scores in the “Teaching” and “Citations” categories. Breaking it down into subcategories, you can see that the decline in the “Teaching” component depends in part on fewer doctoral degrees, and also low scores in “Teaching reputation”, which were the reputation measures applied. However, scores increased in the “Research” category, where Uppsala University ranks 88th. That is due to high scores in the “Publication per staff” and “Research income to academic staff” categories.

“It is always annoying when we end up outside the 100 list, even though we know that the actual differences are negligible. It is gratifying that we have a good standing within the research category. But as always, one should take the rankings with a grain of salt,” says Uppsala University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Anders Malmberg. “Unlike the Shanghai ranking, where we have remained stable at just above 60 over the years, we have often seen large fluctuations in the Times Higher Education rankings from year to year. Over the past seven years, our rankings have ranged from 81 to 111.”

Of the other Swedish universities, Stockholm University is in 175th place, the University of Gothenburg in 186th place and the Royal Institute of Technology in the 201–250 range.
In the new world rankings, the University of Oxford, California Institute of Technology and University of Cambridge rank in the top three. The United States still dominates the ranking, with seven universities in Top 10 list and 40 universities in the top 100 list, but some movement can be noted at the very top.

Additional reading about the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

About university rankings

University rankings attempt to compare and rank a number of educational institutions in lists, often based on a quality perspective. Normally the universities themselves do not produce the rankings. Instead, they are compiled by media, government agencies and various organisations.

Documentation for the rankings can come from various sources:

  • official statistics (national or from a certain higher education institution);
  • bibliometrics (analysis of the publication of scholarly articles and their impact);
  • analyses via the internet, such as in the form of questionnaires to educational institutions, students, and employers.
  • These various sources yield a variety of data, and different aspects (indicators) are weighed against each other and combined into a final figure that can be presented as a grade or measure of the quality of a particular university.

The following university rankings are among the oldest, best-known and most recognised in the media:

  • Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings (THE)
  • QS World University Rankings
  • Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), “the Shanghai Ranking”

These three rankings aim to include both education and research but focus mostly on research. That is particularly true of ARWU, which by and large focuses only on research excellence.

Uppsala University has placed high on the list among the best universities in the world in the three major international rankings: ARWU, QS and THE. But Uppsala University’s ranking on the lists has varied somewhat over the last seven years, when it has ranged between 60th and 117th place.