The latest Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU) league table, published by ShanghaiRanking, released in August, produced few surprises, with most of the trends over recent years continuing.

The Ongoing Trends

Shanghai Ranking - Global Superbrands
  1. The same ten US and UK university global ‘superbrands’ as last year dominate the top of the ranking. With its methodological focus on research metrics, plus historical achievements such as Nobel Prize wins, it remains hard for other institutions to break into the top echelon.
  2. Chinses universities continue to progress in the ARWU, with leading institution Tsinghua rising two places but Peking (up 11 places to 34) and Fudan (rising by 16 places to 36) showing the biggest jumps. China now has 9 universities in the top 100.
  3. Australian institutions continued their progress up the rankings of recent years with Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney, and UNSW all improving their positions within the top 100.
  4. Continental European universities continue to perform well in this ranking, consistently outperforming their positions in the other league tables whose methodologies include a specific reputation measure. French universities have consolidated their positions in the top 100 following the recent re-organisation of the system.
Shanghai Ranking - China Performance

World 100 Member Performance

Despite the lack of focus on reputation in the ranking methodology, many W100 members continue to perform strongly in the ARWU/Shanghai ranking, with the University of Toronto leading the way at 22, followed by The University of Melbourne at 32 and The University of Manchester at 38

New W100 members, University of Alberta and Hong Kong University broke into the top 100 of the ARWU, with the University of Bristol, another recent joiner ranking in 81st place.  

Overall, 14 W100 members made the top 100, and 25 members are now in the top 200 of ARWU.

shanghai ranking - W100 Member performance

Are Any Pandemic Trends Emerging?

Any impact on the league tables from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still hard to pinpoint. It is anticipated that the changes to research metrics may take some years to feed through into rankings.

At W100, we have been particularly interested in whether universities have been able to translate the high profile of their academics during the pandemic into reputational gains – which will of course not be reflected in the ARWU.

However, a glance at the ARWU Global Ranking of Academic Subjects might start to indicate some changes. Looking at the ranking for Public Health research – closely related to much of the high profile covid-related activity of recent years, it is notable that Imperial College London and the University of Oxford both improved their rankings.

We will be looking closely for any reputational impact when the next major league table, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, are published in October. Join us at the W100 Annual Conference in Montreal to hear some unique insights from Duncan Ross, THE’s Chief Data Officer.