Most notably, QS has adjusted its emphasis on research citations to better represent institutions which perform well in the arts and humanities, revealing “more diversity than ever in the distribution of world-class universities at the highest levels”, according to Ben Sowter, head of the QS Intelligence Unit.
“Singapore is a nation that believes in education, and the latest QS ranking results show that Singapore’s continuous investment in education has paid off”
For example, it has reduced a bias towards strong medical research, which has historically buoyed up some institutions that have fallen dramatically since last year – some lower down the table by more than 100 places.
In contrast, the London School of Economics, for example, has rocketed from 71st position to 35th – a deserved ranking that in light of the new weighting will “surprise no one” given its strength in social sciences, Sowter told The PIE News.
The stars of this year’s rankings were Singapore’s two largest public universities, which rocketed a combined 36 places.
Nanyang Technical University in Singapore made the biggest leap among the top 15 universities this year, jumping 26 places to 13th to overtake heavyweights including Yale, Cornell and King’s College London.
The adjustment to the scoring of medical research means that NTU is no longer disadvantaged in the rankings for not having a medical school, meaning that the new methodology is “substantially responsible” for the upswing, Sowter said.
However, NTU’s success is “not entirely” down to these changes, as demonstrated by an upward trajectory that has seen it jump 61 places over the last five years.
National University Singapore has also leapt 10 places to 12th.
“Having two universities ranked in the world’s top 15 is a remarkable and timely achievement for Singapore, as it celebrates its 50th year of independence this year,” commented NTU president Bertil Andersson.
“Next year we’re going to have to demonstrate that our new method can yield a sustainable, credible, ongoing ranking”
“Singapore is a nation that believes in education, and the latest QS ranking results show that Singapore’s continuous investment in education has paid off,” he added.
Meanwhile, the shake-up saw US universities rise and UK institutions fall in the top 10, as the University of Cambridge fell one place to joint third, overtaken by Harvard. Stanford and Caltech jumped to joint third place, up four, and fifth, up three, respectively.
In contrast, Imperial College London tumbled from joint second to eighth position this year, while Oxford and University College London – last year joint fifth – fell to sixth and seventh respectively.
Princeton and Yale were the notable exceptions, dropping out of the top 10 to 11th and 15th place respectively.
Though the US and UK continue to dominate the top 10, they left room for ETH Zurich, which has consistently been ranked the top university in continental Europe, to enter in ninth position, up from 12th last year.
This year’s table has undergone “the most radical changes we’ve seen since 2007”, which was the last time QS changed its methodology, Sowter said, but he expects the results to be more stable next year.
“We recognise and have always recognised that for a ranking to have credibility it’s got to have stability,” he commented. “Nonetheless we’ve made a selection of changes that have made a substantial difference and next year we’re going to have to consolidate and demonstrate that our new method can yield a sustainable, credible, ongoing ranking, which I believe they will.”