World Univer­sity Rank­ings 2016-2017 By Sub­ject: USA And UK Lead Way


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Ex­per­tise across a broad range of dis­ci­plines – rather than ex­cep­tional per­for­mance in just a few – is key to suc­cess in Eng­land’s The Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (THE) World Univer­sity Rank­ings, lat­est sub­ject rank­ings sug­gest.

Just 14 dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties make the top five of the eight sub­ject rank­ings pub­lished this week, which cover arts and hu­man­i­ties; busi­ness and eco­nom­ics; clin­i­cal, pre-clin­i­cal and health; com­puter science; en­gi­neer­ing and tech­nol­ogy; life sciences; phys­i­cal sciences; and so­cial sciences. Both com­puter science and busi­ness and eco­nom­ics are new sub­ject rank­ings for 2016-17.

Only one of the uni­ver­si­ties in this emi­nent group is out­side the US and the UK: Switzer­land’s ETH Zurich – Swiss Fed­eral In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy Zurich.

The other in­sti­tu­tions are Stan­ford Univer­sity, Yale Univer­sity, the Univer­sity of Chicago, Har­vard Univer­sity, Prince­ton Univer­sity, Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, Ge­or­gia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley in the US, and the Univer­sity of Ox­ford, Univer­sity of Cam­bridge, Im­pe­rial Col­lege London and Univer­sity Col­lege London in the UK.

All these uni­ver­si­ties ap­pear in the top 33 places of the THE World Univer­sity Rank­ings 2016-2017. The Univer­sity of Ox­ford, which be­came the first UK univer­sity to top the ta­ble, makes the top five in seven of the sub­ject rank­ings – more than any other in­sti­tu­tion – but is num­ber one in only the clin­i­cal, pre-clin­i­cal and health list. Many Asian uni­ver­si­ties have also risen up the sub­ject rank­ings since last year, mir­ror­ing the strength of the con­ti­nent in the over­all THE World Univer­sity Rank­ings. Pek­ing Univer­sity is now joint 35th for so­cial sciences, up from joint 52nd last year, while Ts­inghua Univer­sity is 34th for phys­i­cal sciences, up from 47th. Stan­ford and Har­vard each ap­pear in six of the top five lists. Stan­ford is num­ber one for so­cial sciences, and arts and hu­man­i­ties, while Har­vard is first in the phys­i­cal sciences and life sciences, and shares top spot with Stan­ford for arts and hu­man­i­ties.

Richard Saller, dean of the School of Hu­man­i­ties and Sciences at Stan­ford, said that his­tory, lit­er­a­ture and phi­los­o­phy have been “strong at Stan­ford for some time” but there has been a “real change” in the strength of art his­tory, mu­sic and theatre re­cently. In­vest­ment in these ar­eas has in­cluded a new con­cert hall and a new col­lec­tion of Amer­i­can art, he said.

Pro­fes­sor Saller added that Stan­ford is “dif­fer­ent from most of its peers” in that stu­dents com­bine both the prac­tice and study of arts sub­jects.

“Our univer­sity be­lieves that the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween prac­ti­tion­ers and schol­ars can be pro­duc­tive and it’s not the way most other uni­ver­si­ties are organised,” he said. “That’s pro­moted a good deal of cre­ativ­ity.”

He said that the strength of the univer­sity’s en­gi­neer­ing depart­ment also im­pacts on other ar­eas of the univer­sity, cit­ing a de­sign programme that com­bines both en­gi­neer­ing and art.

All un­der­grad­u­ates at the in­sti­tu­tion are re­quired to take a course in “cre­ative ex­pres­sion”, which in­cludes cre­ative writ­ing, sculp­ture and paint­ing, re­gard­less of their spe­cial­ism, he added.

The fig­ures on the map re­fer to the top four coun­tries with the high­est num­ber of in­sti­tu­tions. The coun­tries in white are those with no in­sti­tu­tions in the 2016 rank­ing.

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