Academic Ranking of World Universities
CategoriesHigher education
PublisherShanghai Jiao Tong University; since 2009 published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), commonly known as the Shanghai Ranking, is a publication that was founded and compiled by the Shanghai Jiaotong University to rank universities globally.[1] The rankings have been conducted since 2003 and updated annually. Since 2009, the rankings have been published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.[2] ARWU is the first global ranking of universities to be published.[3] It was initially designed to provide a global benchmark against the various universities in China so they could assess their progress.[4]

The Academic Ranking of World Universities is regarded to be one of the three most influential and widely observed international university rankings, along with the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[5][6][7] Its consistent and objective methodology is praised when compared with other rankings.[8] However, it has also been criticized for its heavy focus on the natural sciences over the social sciences or humanities, and over the quality of instruction.[5][6]


The ranking compares 1200 higher education institutions worldwide according to a formula that took into account alumni winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (10 percent), staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (20 percent), highly-cited researchers in 21 broad subject categories (20 percent), articles published in the journals Nature and Science (20 percent), the Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index (20 percent) and the per capita academic performance (on the indicators above) of an institution (10 percent). The methodology is set out in an academic article by its originators, N.C. Liu and Y. Cheng.[9]

The methodology used by the Shanghai Rankings is largely academic and research oriented.


As the first multi-indicator ranking of global universities, ARWU has attracted a great deal of attention from universities, governments and media. A survey on higher education published by The Economist in 2005 commented ARWU as "the most widely used annual ranking of the world's research universities."[10] In 2010, the Chronicle of Higher Education called ARWU "the best-known and most influential global ranking of universities".[11]

One of the factors in the significant influence of ARWU is that its methodology is said to look globally sound and transparent. EU Research Headlines reported the ARWU's work on 31st Dec 2003: "The universities were carefully evaluated using several indicators of research performance."[12] Chancellor of Oxford University, Prof. Chris Patten, said "the methodology looks fairly solid ... it looks like a pretty good stab at a fair comparison." Vice-Chancellor of Australian National University, Prof. Ian Chubb, said "The SJTU rankings were reported quickly and widely around the world… (and they) offer an important comparative view of research performance and reputation." Margison (2007) also commented the ARWU ranking that one of the strengths of "the academically rigorous and globally inclusive Jiao Tong approach" is "constantly tuning its rankings and invites open collaboration in that."[13] Philip G. Altbach named ARWU's "consistency, clarity of purpose, and transparency" as significant strengths.[14]

The ARWU ranking and its content have been widely cited and applied as a starting point for identifying national strengths and weaknesses as well as facilitating reform and setting new initiatives. Bill Destler (2008), the president of the Rochester Institute of Technology, draw reference to the ARWU ranking to analyze the comparative advantages the Western Europe and US have in terms of intellectual talent and creativity in his publication in the journal Nature.[15]

European commissioner of Education, Jan Figel, pointed out in an interview in 2007 that "if you look at the Shanghai index, we are the strongest continent in terms of numbers and potential but we are also shifting into a secondary position in terms of quality and attractiveness. If we don't act we will see an uptake or overtake by Chinese or Indian universities."[16] Also, Enserink (2007) referred to ARWU and argued in a paper published in Science that "France's poor showing in the Shanghai ranking ... helped trigger a national debate about higher education that resulted in a new law... giving universities more freedom."[17] The world leading think tank Rand Corporation used the ARWU ranking as evidence in their consultancy paper to the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.[18]

In two subsequent research papers[19][20] published by Academic Leadership (2009), then in an article [21] published by the Times Higher Education (2009), Paul Z. Jambor of Korea University established the connection between any unfavorable image/reputation universities may develop (and/or their association, by country, to those universities linked to the wrongdoing) to a halt in their climb or even to a drop in their THE – QS World University Rankings. This is because 40% and 10% of THE – QS World Methodology is based on Academic Peer Review and Employer Review respectively. In essence, any unfavorable image developed by a group of universities, associated by country, tends to harm their collective rankings. For this reason, universities worldwide should seriously consider adhering to internationally accepted standards so that they do not run the risk of sliding in the ranks on the international front. Consequently, a number of critics consider this aspect of THE – QS World University Rankings unfair and even biased.[22]

The new Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE-Reuters), published since 2010 is based on a revised Methodology.[23] In the Methodology of the THE-Reuters World University Rankigs, the 'Papers per research and academic staff' {at 4.5%} and the 'Citation impact (normalised average citation per paper)' {at 32.5%} indicators make it evident that a university's ranking heavily relies on the number and quality of research papers written by its faculty. With 95% of research papers written in English,[24] the relationship between English language use and a university's subsequent ranking thus becomes ever more clear. Jambor highlights the connection between actual English use and university rankings in a pair of research papers[25][26] respectively published by the US Department of Education: ERIC and Academic Leadership.


College and university rankings often stimulate controversy (see Criticism of college and university rankings (North America) and Criticism of college and university rankings (2007 United States)) and the ARWU is no exception. A 2007 paper published in the journal Scientometrics found that the results from the Shanghai rankings could not be reproduced from raw data using the method described by Liu and Cheng.[27]

In a report from April 2009, J-C. Billaut, D. Bouyssou and Ph. Vincke analyze how the ARWU works, using their insights as specialists of Multiple Criteria Decision Making (MCDM). Their main conclusions are that the criteria used are not relevant; that the aggregation methodology has a number of major problems; and that insufficient attention has been paid to fundamental choices of criteria.[28]

The ARWU researchers themselves, N.C Liu and Y Cheng,[29] think that the quality of universities cannot be precisely measured by mere numbers and any ranking must be controversial. They suggest that university and college rankings should be used with caution and their methodologies must be understood clearly before reporting or using the results.

Others have pointed out, the ARWU is known for "relying solely on research indicators", and "the ranking is heavily weighted toward institutions whose faculty or alumni have won Nobel Prizes": it does not measure "the quality of teaching or the quality of humanities."[6][30]

Ioannides et al. suggested that (in common with all ranking systems they reviewed), the ranking lacked construct validity modest concordance between the Shanghai and Times rankings. They highlighted measurement precision, and transparent methodology as important issues.[31]

Like the Times Higher Education's rankings, the ARWU has been criticized by the European Commission as well as some EU member states for "favour[ing] Anglo-Saxon higher education institutions".[32]


The table below contains the overall rankings as ordinal numbers (i.e., 1 is best, 2 is second best, etc.) from 2003 to 2012 for all universities that ranked in the top 100 in one of the years tabulated.[1] The ranking is omitted for years in which the school did not land within the top 100. Note the full ranking contains over 500 universities. If a university is not listed in this table, it did not rank in the top 100 in any of the years tabulated.

University 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
22x20px Aarhus University100010001000100010009397988686
United States Arizona State University100010001000100969394817879
22x20px Australian National University49535354575959597064
United States Boston University98878181858374777671
United States Brown University49828685707169656565
United States California Institute of Technology3666666666
United States Carnegie Mellon University61626256606259585551
United States Case Western Reserve University51656570788387979799
United States Columbia University10997777888
United States Cornell University12121212121212121313
United States Duke University33313131323331353536
22x20px École normale supérieure - Paris1000859399837370716973
United States Emory University991000100010001000100010010010001000
Germany Free University of Berlin9510001000998310001000100010001000
Germany Goethe University Frankfurt100010001000100010001000100010001001000
United States Harvard University1111111111
Template:Country data ISR Hebrew University of Jerusalem94909060646564525753
Germany Humboldt University of Berlin100095951000100010001000100010001000
22x20px Imperial College London17232323232726262424
United States Indiana University - Bloomington10001000100097909293908284
United States Johns Hopkins University24222220192019181817
22x20px Karolinska Institutet39464548535150424442
22x20px King's College London75777783838165636868
Japan Kyoto University30212122222324242726
22x20px Lund University9392929097971000100010001000
United States Massachusetts Institute of Technology6555555433
Canada McGill University79616162636065616463
Canada McMaster University86888890878991888992
United States Michigan State University87808080808386869296
22x20px Moscow State University1000666670767077747780
Japan Nagoya University6897979894100082799496
United States New York University55323229303132312927
United States North Carolina State University99100010001000100010001000100010001000
United States Northwestern University29303033293030293030
United States Ohio State University81737366616262596365
Japan Osaka University53545461676871758283
United States Pennsylvania State University40434342434245434549
United States Princeton University7778888777
United States Purdue University80717173686565696156
United States Rice University61757587879799999391
United States Rockefeller University28292930303232343332
United States Rutgers University38444446475455545961
United States Stanford University2223222322
22x20px Stockholm University1000979784868688798181
22x20px ETH Zurich25272727272423232323
Germany Technical University of Munich60455254565757564753
Template:Country data ISR Technion-Israel Institute of Technology10001000100010001000100010001000100078
United States Texas A&M University7010001000889188889510093
Japan Tohoku University6469697676798484971000
Japan Tokyo Institute of Technology100010001000899910001000100010001000
United States Tufts University8399991000100010001000100010001000
United States University of Arizona55767676747777788077
22x20px University of Basel96919181828785868985
22x20px University of Birmingham10009393909291949910001000
Germany University of Bonn10009999100099979893941000
22x20px University of Bristol55606062626161667070
Canada University of British Columbia35363636363536363739
United States University of California, Berkeley4444333244
United States University of California, Davis36424242434849464847
United States University of California, Irvine44555544454646464845
United States University of California, Los Angeles15161614131313131212
United States University of California, Riverside88100010001000100010001000100010001000
United States University of California, San Diego14131313141414141515
United States University of California, San Francisco13171718181818181718
United States University of California, Santa Barbara26353535353635323334
22x20px University of Cambridge5322444555
United States University of Chicago1110108998999
22x20px University College London20252526252221212021
United States University of Colorado31343434343434323233
22x20px University of Copenhagen65595956464543404344
22x20px University of Edinburgh43474752535553545351
United States University of Florida75676753515858687272
Germany University of Freiburg1000888893949610001000100099
22x20px University of Geneva100010001000100010001000100010007369
22x20px University of Ghent99100010001000100010001000908989
Germany University of Göttingen9179798587909093861000
22x20px University of Groningen84100010001000100010001000100010001000
Germany University of Heidelberg58646466656763636262
22x20px University of Helsinki74727274736872727473
United States University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign45252525262625252525
United States University of Illinois at Chicago96100010001000100010001000100010001000
United States University of Iowa9010001000959710001000100010001000
22x20px University of Leiden78636372717672706573
22x20px University of Manchester89785350484041443840
United States University of Maryland, College Park75575737373737363838
22x20px University of Melbourne92828278797375626057
United States University of Michigan, Ann Arbor21191921212122222222
United States University of Minnesota, Twin Cities37333332332828282829
Germany University of Munich48515151535555525460
United States University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill52565659583839414241
22x20px University of Nottingham1000808079818283848586
22x20px University of Oslo63686868696465757567
22x20px University of Oxford98810101010101010
22x20px Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University65414145394240394142
22x20px University of Paris-Sud 1172484864524943454037
United States University of Pennsylvania18151515151515151414
United States University of Pittsburgh53484848495250565758
22x20px University of Queensland100010001000100010001000100010008690
Italy Sapienza University of Rome709397100100010001000100010001000
United States University of Rochester72525274757377828486
22x20px University of Sheffield6869696972778188971000
United States University of Southern California40484847505046464646
22x20px University of Strasbourg10008282969910001000100010001000
22x20px University of Sydney100010001000100010009794929693
United States University of Texas at Austin47404039383938383535
United States University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas34363638394148495148
Japan University of Tokyo19141419201920202120
Canada University of Toronto23242424232427272627
United States University of Utah81959594937980827982
22x20px Utrecht University40393940424752504853
22x20px University of Vienna8486861000100010001000100010001000
United States University of Virginia67100010001000100095919610001000
United States University of Washington16202017161616161616
22x20px University of Western Australia10001000100010001000100010001000100096
United States University of Wisconsin–Madison27181816171717171919
22x20px University of Zurich45575758585354515659
22x20px Uppsala University59747465667176666773
United States Vanderbilt University32383841414241535250
United States Washington University in St. Louis22282828282929303131
Template:Country data ISR Weizmann Institute of Science10001000100010001000100010001000100093
United States Yale University8111111111111111111


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