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Times Higher Education 2012 World Reputation Rankings



Harvard heads an elite group of six US and UK global university “super-brands”

But the West loses ground to the East in the global index of academic prestige
Cambridge beats Oxford at the top of the world’s biggest ever global academic reputation survey, but other UK institutions have taken a hit and the UK’s representation among elite 100 has shrunk
US dominates with 44 institutions in top 100, UK next with 10, but clear evidence of the growing prestige of Asian institutions across the region, especially China

Reason for celebration in Japan, Australia, Germany and Brazil, but no representatives from Ireland, Russia, India

Times Higher Education magazine today publishes its 2012 World Reputation Rankings. The annual reputation rankings, which complement the prestigious World University Rankings, are based on the world’s largest survey of academic opinion and provide a unique insight into the shifting academic prestige of institutions.
Reputation both reflects and drives university success – helping to attract staff, students, business investment, research partners and benefactions in a highly competitive global market.

This year’s rankings provide clear evidence of an elite group of US and UK global “super-brands”, head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. The group is headed by Harvard University in 1st, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2nd), the University of Cambridge (3rd), Stanford University (4th), the University of California , Berkeley (5th) and the University of Oxford (6th).

This top six super-group was identified in the first World Reputation Rankings in 2011, but the gap between the six and the chasing pack has widened since last year. The only change to the top six is that the private US institution Stanford has leapfrogged its public Californian rival, Berkeley.

Although it has slipped only one place, Berkeley heads a long list of prestigious US public universities which have seen a fall in their reputation rank this year, suggesting that widely publicised public funding cuts at such institutions have hurt their global image. University of California San Diego (in 36th) and UC Davis (44th) have both fallen six places each.

But when it comes to prestige among those who know quality in university teaching and research better than anyone – academics themselves – the US utterly dominates, with 44 universities in the world top 100 list (down from 45 last year).

Outside the US , the UK has the most top 100 representatives with 10 universities, but this has declined from 12 last year. Both Oxford (6th) and Cambridge (3rd) maintain their positions in the top six supergroup. However, big names in the UK , including Imperial College (down from 11th to 13th), University College London (down from 19th to 21st) the University of Edinburgh (down from 45th to 49th) and the University of Bristol (81-90 to 91-100) have all suffered a fall in their reputation ranking. The University of Sheffield , and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have dropped out of the top 100 altogether.

In terms of representation in the top 100 list, the US and UK are followed by Japan and the Netherlands with five institutions each, and Germany , Australia and France with four each. In total 19 countries/regions are represented.
Japan is the surprise package. While it is struggling with some of the objective indicators used to compile the World University Rankings, when based on academic prestige alone, it does exceptionally well. Tokyo University makes the world top 10, remaining in 8th place, while Kyoto University makes the world top 20, in 20th place.

East Asia in general performs very well, signalling the start of a power shift from West to East. China ’s two representatives in the top 100 – Tsinghua University (up from 35th to 30th) and Peking University (up from 43 to 38th) have both risen up the table. The University of Hong Kong has entered the top 40 (to 39th from 42nd) and the National Taiwan University rose from the 81-90 band to the 61-70 band. The National University of Singapore has also climbed, from 27th to 23rd.

All of Australia’s four representatives in the top 100 have seen an increase in their reputation ranking, headed by the University of Melbourne, up from 45th to 43rd. Germany’s top universities, led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen (up from 48th to 42nd) have also enjoyed a rise in their overall prestige.

The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings are part of the portfolio of university ranking systems that have established Times Higher Education as the most respected and cited provider of comparative university performance data in the world. The reputation rankings are based on a global, invitation-only opinion poll carried out by Ipsos for Times Higher Education’s rankings data supplier, Thomson Reuters. The poll has attracted almost 31,000 responses from 149 countries in just two annual rounds. This year’s results are based on a record 17,554 responses from senior, published academics, up by 31 per cent on last year’s poll of 13,388 academics.

Key Facts
• There are a total of 19 countries/regions in the world top 100 reputation list
• Only four countries are represented in the world top 20 – US, UK , Japan and Canada
• The highest ranking university outside the UK and the USA is Japan ’s University of Tokyo , in 8th place.
• Brazil is represented in the top 100 by the University of Sao Paulo , in the 61-70 band.
• The Middle East is represented by Israel , with two institutions in the top 100, and Turkey , with one.
• Turkey is a new entrant to the top 100 list, with the Middle East Technical University scraping into the 91-100 band
• Switzerland , a country of only 8 million people, has three universities in the top 100
• Russia and India do not have a single university in the top 100.
• Austria and Finland , who had one institution each represented last year, have both dropped out of the list
• France has four institutions in the top 100, led by the Universite Paris-Sorbonne, although none make the top 50.
• There are four countries with only one representative each in the top 100 – Brazil , Taiwan , Belgium and Turkey
• Ireland is not represented in the world top 100 by reputation

Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings, said:

“In a highly competitive global marketplace, those universities who enjoy the best reputations get to reap all the spoils – taking their pick of the best professors, creaming off the most talented students (whose degree certificates will be a passport to career success) attracting the most lucrative research partnerships and business contracts, as well as persuading benefactors to part with their money. When it comes to global prestige, the winner takes all.

“But while top reputations can take many years, even centuries to build, in today’s information-rich, fast-moving and interconnected world, universities cannot sit back and rely on their history. New forces are emerging and signs of declining performance among the establishment are quickly identified, shared and spread. Established reputations can be highly vulnerable.

“Our data provides clear evidence that in terms of prestige among academics around the world, there is the start of a power shift from the West to the East.”

Quotes on each country are provided later in this release, after the data tables.

The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2012
(Copyright Times Higher Education 2012. Link to

2012 reputation rank University Country 2011 reputation rank
1 Harvard University United States 1
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States 2
3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom 3
4 Stanford University United States 5
5 University of California , Berkeley United States 4
6 University of Oxford United Kingdom 6
7 Princeton University United States 7
8 University of Tokyo Japan 8
9 University of California , Los Angeles United States 12
10 Yale University United States 9
11 California Institute of Technology United States 10
12 University of Michigan United States 13
13 Imperial College London United Kingdom 11
14 University of Chicago United States 15
15 Columbia University United States 23
16 Cornell University United States 16
16 University of Toronto Canada 17
18 Johns Hopkins University United States 14
19 University of Pennsylvania United States 22
20 Kyoto University Japan 18
21 University College London United Kingdom 19
22 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich Switzerland 24
23 University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign United States 21
23 National University of Singapore Singapore 27
25 University of British Columbia Canada 31
25 McGill University Canada 29
27 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States 25
28 University of Washington United States 26
29 London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom 37
30 Tsinghua University China 35
31 University of California , San Francisco United States 34
32 University of Texas at Austin United States 31
33 Duke University United States 36
34 New York University United States 51-60
35 Northwestern University United States 40
36 University of California , San Diego United States 30
37 Carnegie Mellon University United States 28
38 Peking University China 43
39 The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 42
39 University of Massachusetts United States 19
41 Georgia Institute of Technology United States 39
42 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Germany 48
43 University of Melbourne Australia 45
44 Australian National University Australia 51-60
44 University of California , Davis United States 38
46 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States 41
47 University of Minnesota United States 43
47 Purdue University United States 47
49 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom 45
50 The University of Sydney Australia 51-60
51-60 Delft University of Technology Netherlands 49
51-60 Karolinska Institute Sweden 51-60
51-60 University of Manchester United Kingdom 61-70
51-60 The Ohio State University United States 51-60
51-60 Osaka University Japan 50
51-60 Pennsylvania State University United States 61-70
51-60 University of California , Santa Barbara United States 51-60
51-60 Seoul National University Korea , Republic of 51-60
51-60 Tohoku University Japan 51-60
51-60 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan 51-60
61-70 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland 71-80
61-70 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel #N/A
61-70 The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong 91-100
61-70 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Germany 71-80
61-70 King's College London United Kingdom 61-70
61-70 Technische Universität München Germany 61-70
61-70 University of Pittsburgh United States 51-60
61-70 University of São Paulo Brazil #N/A
61-70 University of Southern California United States 71-80
61-70 National Taiwan University Taiwan 81-90
71-80 University of Amsterdam Netherlands 81-90
71-80 Universität Heidelberg Germany 81-90
71-80 Michigan State University United States 71-80
71-80 Université Paris-Sorbonne France #N/A
71-80 The University of Queensland Australia Australia 81-90
71-80 Texas A&M University United States 81-90
71-80 Uppsala University Sweden 61-70
71-80 Utrecht University Netherlands 71-80
71-80 Washington University in St Louis United States 71-80
71-80 University of Zürich Switzerland 61-70
81-90 Brown University United States #N/A
81-90 The Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong #N/A
81-90 University of Florida United States 61-70
81-90 Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Belgium 81-90
81-90 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Korea , Republic of 91-100
81-90 University of Leeds United Kingdom 81-90
81-90 Leiden University Netherlands 81-90
81-90 Lund University Sweden 71-80
81-90 Nanyang Technological University Singapore 91-100
81-90 Tel Aviv University Israel #N/A
91-100 University of Arizona United States 71-80
91-100 Boston University United States 61-70
91-100 University of Bristol United Kingdom 81-90
91-100 École Polytechnique France 61-70
91-100 Indiana University United States 81-90
91-100 Middle East Technical University Turkey #N/A
91-100 Université Paris-Sud France #N/A
91-100 Université Pierre et Marie Curie France #N/A
91-100 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey United States 71-80
91-100 Wageningen University and Research Center Netherlands #N/A

The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2012 – Number of representatives of each country in the top 100.
(Copyright Times Higher Education 2012. Link to

Country Number in top 100 Highest ranked institution (HRI) Ranking of HRI
United States 44 Harvard University 1
United Kingdom 10 University of Cambridge 3
Japan 5 University of Tokyo 8
Netherlands 5 Delft University of Technology 51-60
Germany 4 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München 42
Australia 4 University of Melbourne 43
France 4 Université Paris-Sorbonne 71-80
Canada 3 University of Toronto 16
Switzerland 3 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich 22
Hong Kong 3 The University of Hong Kong 39
Sweden 3 Karolinska Institute 51-60
Singapore 2 National University of Singapore 23
China 2 Tsinghua University 30
Korea , Republic of 2 Seoul National University 51-60
Israel 2 Hebrew University of Jerusalem 61-70
Brazil 1 University of São Paulo 61-70
Taiwan 1 National Taiwan University 61-70
Belgium 1 Katholieke Universiteit Leuven 81-90
Turkey 1 Middle East Technical University 91-100


Country-by-country quotes.
Please attribute all quotes to Phil Baty, Editor, Times Higher Education Rankings

Australia .
“This reputation-only index is very good news for Australia – all four of its representatives in the world top 100 have risen up the table, with three of the four now making the global top 50. This is clear evidence that Australia’s universities are rising in stature internationally, while competitors in US and UK are seeing their global brands suffer.
“I’ve argued in the past that Australia may have an image problem – with its performance on our global reputation-only index falling behind its performance based on the hard-objective indicators we use in the overall World University Rankings. While that does remain an issue for Australia ’s top two, Mel bourne and ANU, the situation is clearly improving.”

“ Belgium has just one institution in the top 100 reputation list, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, in the 81-90 band. This is a solid achievement, as the list represents only about 0.5 per cent of the world’s higher education institutions. But Leuven may have something of an image problem to address – it actually performs better in the overall World University Rankings, which use 13 largely objective performance indicators.”

Brazil .
“Although it is the only representative of South America in the world reputation rankings, Sao Paulo University ’s position among the world top 100 is something to be celebrated. Indeed, its position in the 61-70 band in a list based on subjective academic opinion is much higher than its 178th place in the overall World University Rankings, which are based on 13, largely objective indicators. This could be a sign of growing confidence among international scholars in Brazil ’s flagship university, with academics on the ground becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities and exciting research activity taking place in Brazil . It certainly will not have gone unnoticed around the world that just last week Brazil ’s economy overtook Britain ’s, growing 2.7 per cent last year.”

Canada .
“ Canada continues to have some of the most prestigious universities in the world, and its top institutions are improving their standing – all three of Canada ’s representatives in the top 100 list achieved an improved position and all made the top 25. But we are perhaps seeing greater polarisation in the Canadian sector, in terms of global perception, because at the lower end of the table, the University of Waterloo , which last year scraped into the 91-100 band, has now dropped out of the top 100.”

China .
“This table should be very good news for China . Its two representatives in the top 100 reputation list – Tsinghua and Peking – both rose five places up the table, and both are now in the world top 40. This suggests that the whole world of scholarship sees the exciting changes taking place in China ’s higher education system – and in particular, has noticed the huge levels of investment in establishing world-class universities. We may see the rest of the C9 institutions appearing in these tables before long.
“Indeed, China is clearly part of a very exciting group of East Asian countries or regions seeing significant increases in the prestige of their universities – with Taiwan and Hong Kong also seeing their top universities rising up the reputation table. This is against some notable drops for some big-name institutions in the US and UK . When it comes to exciting developments in higher education, all eyes are facing East.”

France .
“ France is well represented in these reputation-only tables, with four institutions in the top 100 – more than Canada , and more than double the number of representatives from China . But it should be a matter of concern that a higher education system with such a long tradition of excellence has its highest ranked institution in the 71-80 band, well behind leading institutions in England and Germany . Perhaps the current radical reforms to French higher education will make a difference in the longer terms, but at the moment there’s a lot of uncertainty and confusion about the French system and this may be affecting the country’s reputation among scholars worldwide.”

Germany .
“ Germany has only four institutions in the reputation top 100 list, compared to five for the Netherlands , 10 for the UK and a staggering 44 for the US . So at first glance, this is not good news for such a large economy.
“However, the signs for the future are good – of Germany ’s four representatives in the list, two have risen up the table, and two have maintained their positions. Ludwig-Maximilians has risen six places – a sign of its growing stature on the international stage. Germany ’s improved overall performance could be contrasted with the UK , where some top institutions have seen their positions slip. Perhaps the world is paying real attention to Germany ’s Excellence Initiative, and we can expect more upward movement in future.”

Hong Kong .
“This new data should be good news for Hong Kong ’s leading universities – showing that their stock is clearly rising. Hong Kong’s enviable position as an increasingly influential global business and education hub is the key here – with strong links to both China and the West. Hong Kong U has entered the reputation top 40, and the excitement surrounding the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has seen it jump from the 91-100 band last year into the 61-70 group.
“Indeed, Hong Kong is clearly part of a very exciting group of East Asian countries or regions seeing significant increases in the prestige of their universities – with China, Taiwan and Singapore all seeing their top universities rising up the reputation table. This is against some notable drops for some big-name institutions in the US and UK . When it comes to exciting developments in higher education, all eyes are facing East.”

Israel .
“This reputation ranking puts Israel firmly on the world map for excellence in higher education. It has two institutions in the world top 100 list, led by Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the 61-70 band. This reputation-only ranking position is much higher than Hebrew University ’s position in the World University Rankings, which are based on 13 largely objective indicators, suggesting that there is no room for complacency in Israel in the ever more competitive global higher education market.”

Japan .
“What a wonderful result for Japan . This data demonstrates that Japan has some of the best regarded universities in the world, with Tokyo up there among the elite in the world’s top ten, and Kyoto making the world’s top 20. This is testament to Japan ’s long and successful history of international collaboration and academic freedom, especially during the years of ‘economic miracle’ from the 1950s to the 1980s.
“However, there must be no room for complacency. This ranking is based on brand alone – purely on subjective reputation – and Japan ’s universities do not perform as well in the annual World University Rankings, which use 13 mostly objective performance indicators. So there must be a concern that Japan is trading too much on its historical reputation. The government has acknowledged that Japan must step-up its efforts to attract more international staff and students to its universities, and I’m sure this will start to improve its international standing in the longer term, but it must also ensure that its universities are well funded.”

Republic of Korea .
“It has been a year of stability and steady progress for South Korea, with Seoul National University holding onto its position just outside the world top 50 in the 51-60 band, and KAIST rising up from the 91-100 group to the 81-90 group. But against some disappointing signs of decline for some big name universities in the US and UK , this should be seen as a positive sign. The power balance does appear to be slowly shifting from West to East when it comes to global academic prestige, and South Korea ’s investment in its World Class University Project will help keep it firmly in the picture.”

Netherlands .
“This is a very strong showing from the Netherlands – only the US and UK have more universities in the reputation world top 100 list, so this table should be really good news. However, the table appears to show the strength in depth of the Netherlands, as not a single one of its five representatives in the top 100 list have made the top 50. There is no stand-out Dutch institution up there with the very best of the US and UK .”

Singapore .
“ Singapore ’s two representatives in the top 100 reputation list both rose up the ranking this year – with NUS jumping four places into 23rd place. In both cases Singapore ’s top 100 institutions are placed higher in the reputation tables than in the overall World University Rankings, which are based on mainly objective indicators. Perhaps this is a sign that academics all around the world are increasingly aware of the opportunities and exciting developments in Singapore .
“Indeed, Singapore is clearly part of a very exciting group of East Asian countries or regions seeing significant increases in the prestige of their universities – with China , Taiwan and Hong Kong all seeing their top universities rising up the reputation table. This is against some notable drops for some big-name institutions in the US and UK . When it comes to exciting developments in higher education, all eyes are facing East.”

Sweden .
“ Sweden is a strong performer with three representatives in the world top 100 reputation list. But it is notable that while its best ranked institution, the Karolinska Institute, has maintained its berth in the 51-60 band, its other two representatives in the list have both slipped. This is against significant rises up the table for leading Asian universities. Sweden needs to watch out if it wants to remain competitive in this highly competitive global market.”

Switzerland .
“ Switzerland is well known as a real higher education power-house, so it should be no surprise that it has three universities in the world reputation top 100 list, led by ETH Zurich up from 22nd from 24th place last year. But it is notable that with all three institutions, their reputation ranking position is significantly lower than their ranking in the overall World University Rankings, which use a majority of objective indicators – so academics globally do not seem to realise quite how good Swiss institutions are.”

Taiwan .
“ Taiwan has cause for celebration as its national flagship university, National Taiwan University , has jumped up the world top 100 reputation list, from the 81-90 band last year, to the 61-70 band today. As far as the global scholarly community is concerned, its stock is rising.
“Indeed, Taiwan is clearly part of a very exciting group of East Asian countries or regions seeing significant increases in the prestige of their universities – with China and Hong Kong also seeing their top universities rising up the reputation table. This is against some notable drops for some big-name institutions in the US and UK . When it comes to exciting developments in higher education, all eyes are facing East.”

Turkey .
“This is great news for Turkey – in the Middle East Technical University, Turkey has a flagship representative in the world top 100 reputation list, which only includes around 0.5 per cent of the world’s higher education institutions. But there is a very big gap between this excellent result in this subjective list and the university’s position outside the top 250 in the overall World University Rankings, which use 13 largely objective performance indicators. So the institution must not fall back on image and reputation alone, if it wants to remain competitive on an international level.”

UK .
“Make no mistake, this data is uncomfortable news for the UK – our global reputation as the home of outstanding universities has been hit. Big names have slipped down the league table, and we have lost two institutions from the world top 100 altogether – we are now down to 10 representatives. Meanwhile all the leading Asian universities, most notably in China , are on the up.
“The messages we are sending to the world about our commitment to funding our universities, fuelled by the images of students protesting in Westminster , on top of our clampdown on overseas students, do not play well globally.
“There is a clear risk that our universities, other than the elite ‘super-brands’ of Oxford and Cambridge, will be relegated from the premier league of institutions in the eyes of the world, with tangible and sustained damage. Perception is reality and it seems that we are perceived as a fading power.”

“The US has the most highly regarded universities in the world by a long way. With a stunning 44 institutions in the world top 100 reputation list, no country comes anywhere near it. But there is absolutely no room for complacency. A large number of US institutions have seen their standing in the table slip, with some of the great public institutions taking significant hits as the world watches their public funding being slashed. This is bad news.
“Meanwhile the top Asian universities – notably in China , Hong Kong and Singapore , which have seen very healthy levels of investment from their governments, have almost all seen an increase in their reputational standing. There are clear signs of the start of a power shift from West to East.”

Notes to Editors

Methodology Key Facts

• The World Reputation Rankings are based on the results of an Academic Reputation Survey, carried out by Ipsos for Thomson Reuters, data supplier to Times Higher Education rankings. The 2012 World Reputation Rankings are based on 17,554 responses from 137 countries to a survey distributed in April-May 2011.
• The survey is available in nine languages and is distributed based on United Nations data to ensure it properly and accurately reflects the global distributions of scholars. Times Higher Education does not allow any volunteering to take part in the survey and accepts no nominations from institutions or any third party.
• The poll asks academics to nominate no more than 15 of “the best” institutions in their narrow field of expertise, based on their experience and knowledge, making it a rigorous global measure of academic prestige.
• For the 2012 table, some 44 per cent of responses were from the Americas , with 28 per cent from Europe and 25 per cent from Asia Pacific and the Middle East .
• 20 per cent of respondents were from the physical sciences, with a further 20 per cent from engineering and technology. 19 per cent were from the social sciences, 17 per cent from clinical subjects, 16 per cent from life sciences and 7 per cent from the arts and humanities.
• The 2011 results are based on a similar survey with a separate sample of 13,388 responses.

The full methodology of the survey, and a copy of the survey instrument, is available at:

Terminology & Intellectual Property
• The full description of the tables is “ Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2012”
• Data for the Times Higher Education ’s World Reputation Rankings was provided by Thomson Reuters from its Global Institutional Profiles Project, an ongoing, multi-stage process to collect and validate factual data about academic institutional performance across a variety of aspects and multiple disciplines.
• Any publication of the “ Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2012” tables (in full or part) should include full attribution to “ Times Higher Education with data supplied by Thomson Reuters”
• Please include the following link when publishing the “ Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2012” tables (in full or part): or

iPhone App – World University Rankings
The separate 2011-2012 World University Rankings, based on 13 largely objective indicators, are available on line at via a free Times Higher Education iPhone app containing rankings data about the world’s best-performing 400 institutions and including data on average tuition fees per institution, and the cost of living in each university location. Powered by data from Thomson Reuters, the app allows users to create their own rankings based on personal preferences and criteria weightings so they can find the institution that best suits their needs.

About Times Higher Education Magazine

Times Higher Education is the world’s most authoritative source of information about higher education. Designed specifically for professional people working in higher education and research, Times Higher Education was founded in 1971 and has been online since 1995. Times Higher Education is published by TSL Education Ltd.

About Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision-makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare and science and media markets, powered by the world’s most trusted news organization. With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan , Minnesota , Thomson Reuters employs more than 55,000 people and operates in more than 100 countries. For more information, go to


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