Ok…I seriously had the intention not to pay too much attention to the THES ranking this year. So this will be the last post about it (of course not the last post about rankings in general and their dynamics). I played around a bit with the data in Excel and had a look at it from a country perspective.

I gave a score of 200 for the number one university (Harvard) and 1 for the number 200 (RMIT; U of Cape Town) etc., and than aggregated these scores for every country. The graph below shows that the United States (with 57 universities in the top 200) and the United Kingdom (with 32 universities) are clearly superior to all other countries:


But of course, that can be expected for a country with more than 300 million inhabitants. So lets control for the population of each country. Clearly, the smaller countries like Hong Kong (ok…not exactly a country), Singapore and Switzerland are doing well, while the United States falls to a position somewhere in the middle. Populous Asian countries like Japan and China also fall behind.


Another way to look at country performance is by controlling it for GDP (PPP; IMF Data). The picture remains rather similar, although here New Zealand leads the pack.


So what can we conclude from all this? Well, considering the methodology of the ranking, not too much. My main conclusion would be that MS Excel 2007 makes nicer graphs than MS Excel 2003.

This article has 22 comments

  1. WoW!ter

    It will be more interesting to look at rankings based on University budgets, or tenured staff.

  2. Eric

    You’re right. Would take a little bit more time though ;) And if I had the time I would probably prefer to do the analysis on the basis of the Shanghai rankings

  3. Pingback: Citation indices, bibliometrics, and audit culture: new research findings « GlobalHigherEd

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  6. Rowani

    Hello, I had just discovered your blog. Interesting. The two graphs gave more meaning to the ranking. Hope you could find time to look at at WoW!Ter’s suggestion.

    Just curious, your blog have links to Malaysian sites.

  7. Pingback: Australia, be careful what you wish for « GlobalHigherEd

  8. Tani

    Hilarious, a ranking system made by Anglo people which conveniently has the UK and the USA at number 1. Oh, who would have thought.

    In reality the university graduation rate in Japan is significantly higher than either country and Japan grants 3x more patents than the USA per capita. School rankings are also higher for Asian countries than western ones.

    The USA and the UK are not even the best among white people, Europeans countries are like Finland.

    Also without all the international Asian students at Oxford and Harvard, these universities would be literally poor performing nobodies. Asian Americans have the highest graduation and PhD rate of any race in the country. Sorry about that, keep trying to do mental gymnastics to tell yourself whites are smarter by choosing the most ridiculous graphs and misrepresenting what they mean.

    Even IQ researches show that 10% of the Japanese population have IQ’s above 130, where as only 2% of western populations have IQ’s above this. Sorry kid, you last white hope kids can keep clinging to fantasies while you become more and more irrelevant.
    White babies are now a minority of babies born in the USA, keep clinging to your imperialist past and trying to tell yourself you are superior. sad

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