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How to use the World University Rankings: frequently asked questions

Practical advice on how to find what you're looking for, with guidance on how to interpret and use the results of university rankings.

  • Guides
  • Rankings for Students
September 25 2023


What are the Times Higher Education World University Rankings?

The THE World University Rankings are the gold standard global higher education ranking system.

For more than a decade, Times Higher Education has produced an ordered list of universities, updated annually and trusted by students, parents and academics.

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The universities are rated in five categories: Teaching, Research, Research Influence, Innovation and International Outlook.

The THE World University Rankings are unique in using these five scores to recognise excellence across all core missions of a leading global university: research, teaching, knowledge transfer and international activity.

How do I use the rankings to choose a university?

The rankings can help you choose a university by giving you more information about the quality of the teaching, research, innovation and environment at different institutions. It also provides an overall comparison between institutions.

However, the rankings cannot make a decision for you. Statistics do not give you a full picture of what it is really like at a university.

Combined with advice from current students and academics, and visits to the universities that you are interested in, the rankings can be used to make an informed choice about which university is right for your unique circumstances and priorities.

Ultimately, only you will know whether a university is a good fit for you. For this reason, THE never gives direct or personal advice about which university you should choose.

To help you with the decision process, in the World University Rankings table under performance breakdown, you can sort universities by each performance indicator to suit your priorities, and you can further explore by key statistics to discover more information about the university environment.

If you are interested in how a university ranks for a specific subject, you can choose the relevant subject ranking – see here for a full list of the subject rankings.

I have an offer from a specific university. Should I accept it?

THE cannot make that decision for you, since every person’s circumstances are unique. You can browse the rankings to compare how that university ranks against others for the same subject or in the same region. You can also explore the student advice guides to hear from experts, students and graduates about the university experience.

How is the ranking calculated?

Overall rank is calculated from scores for 13 different performances indicators, grouped into five categories: Teaching, Research, Research Influence, Innovation and International Outlook.

To produce the 13 indicators for each university, THE’s in-house data team analyses data that universities supply (for example, staff-to-student ratios, doctorates awarded, international students and research income), the results of a “reputation survey” sent to selected academics across the world, and information about published research papers and citations, using Elsevier’s Scopus database.

Each performance indicator (and correspondingly each of the five broader performance categories) is assigned a percentage weighting in the overall ranking score.

Teaching quality counts for 30 per cent, Research counts for 30 per cent, Research Influence counts for 30 per cent, International Outlook counts for 7.5 per cent and Innovation counts for 2.5 per cent.

You can read more about the methodology and why the performance indicators are relevant markers of world-leading universities in The World University Rankings: Explained.

What do the five "performance breakdown" scores mean?

Teaching is a measure of the learning experience and quality at a university. It is based on the reputation among academics, and statistics about staff, students and research.

Research is a measure of both the quality and quantity of research output, based on reputation, research income and productivity.

Citations measures how influential that research is, and counts the number of times work published by academics at the university is cited in other papers.

International Outlook measures the environment and attitude with respect to international students, staff and research. It is based on international-to-domestic ratios across staff, students and research collaborations.

Innovation or Industry Income is a measure of innovation at a university, based on how much the university earns from its inventions and industrial work.

What are the "key statistics"?

Key statistics provide more information about the student experience and university environment. In addition to the overall rank and performance breakdown, you can see:

Number of students
Staff-to-student ratio
Male-to-female students
Percentage of international students

If you are looking for:

More information about the universities

For facts and data about specific countries, universities and courses, and to hear from experts and students themselves, head to THE Student, where you can search the university directory, keep up to date with student news, read blogs written by students from all over the world and find helpful guides to universities, admissions, finance, employment and many other topics.

A specific university

You can search the rankings by university name or country, using the search tool at the top of the World University Rankings table. If the university you are looking for is not in the rankings, you can search the university directory by name or country to find more information. You can also search the rankings from within the directory by selecting World University Rankings and entering the number ranks you want to search between.

Universities in a specific country or region

You can filter the rankings table using the filter tool at the top to see only universities in countries of your choosing. You can filter by as many countries as you want. For example, if you wanted to see only universities in the US, UK and Australia, you could add those three tags in the filter box at the same time. Alternatively you can look at our "Best in" pages, which break down the best universities in a number of countries around the world. 

A specific course to study

If you already know what you want to study, the Subject Rankings can help you find the best universities for that subject. The subject rankings are:

Arts and humanities
Clinical, pre-clinical and health
Engineering and technology
Life sciences
Physical sciences
Social sciences
Computer science
Business and economics

Further questions:

Why can’t I find a university I am looking for?

If you can’t find a university when you search the rankings by university name, it could be because that university is not ranked, or is known under a different name. Try searching the rankings by country instead, or search the university directory to find an unranked university.

A university may not be ranked for two reasons: either it does not fulfil the inclusion criteria for the rankings, or it did not score highly enough to be included.

A university is not included if it does not teach undergraduates, if it teaches only one subject, or if it produces fewer than an average of 200 research papers a year.

Is there a different table for undergraduate and postgraduate study?

There is not a different table for undergraduates and postgraduates. However, the same performance metrics are relevant to postgraduates, particularly given that the Teaching metric actually takes into account doctorate-to-bachelor student ratio and doctorates awarded per number of academic staff ratio.

Why do the rankings change every year?

The rankings are dynamic and there are significant changes year-on-year due to changes in university performance.

Why has my university dropped rank?

There could be many reasons why your university has dropped, most likely due to an actual change in how the university is perceived or performs.

A university’s score depends on its reputation, research income and influence, among other more stable factors. If policy changes at a university affect how it is perceived, it could score lower in the reputation survey of academics. Likewise, policy changes can affect research income, productivity and even impact.

For more information and news about your specific university, try searching  Academic or the Student section for policy news or information about student life.

What subject ranking does my course fall under?

 CourseSubject Ranking
AAccounting and FinanceBusiness and Economics
 AcousticsEngineering and Technology
 Academic Studies in EducationEducation
 Aerospace EngineeringEngineering and Technology
 Agriculture, Fisheries and FoodLife Sciences
 AllergyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 AnaesthesiologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Anatomy and MorphologyLife Sciences
 AnthropologySocial Sciences
 ArchaeologyArts and Humanities
 ArchitectureArts and Humanities
 Area StudiesSocial Sciences
 ArtArts and Humanities
 Asian StudiesArts and Humanities
 Astronomy and AstrophysicsPhysical Sciences
 Automation and Control SystemsEngineering and Technology
BBehavioural SciencesLife Sciences
 Biology, Biochemistry and BiotechnologyLife Sciences
 Biomedical EngineeringEngineering and Technology
 Biomedical Social SciencesSocial Sciences
 BiophysicsLife Sciences
 BusinessBusiness and Economics
CCardiovascular System and CardiologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Chemical EngineeringEngineering and Technology
 ChemistryPhysical Sciences
 Civil EngineeringEngineering and Technology
 ClassicsArts and Humanities
 Clinical PsychologyPsychology
 CommunicationSocial Sciences
 Computer and Information ScienceComputer Science
 Construction and Building TechnologyEngineering and Technology
 Criminology and PenologySocial Sciences
 CrystallographyPhysical Sciences
 Cultural StudiesArts and Humanities
DDanceArts and Humanities
 Decision Support/StatisticsSocial Sciences
 DemographySocial Sciences
 Dentistry and Oral SurgeryClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 DermatologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
EEarth and Environmental EngineeringEngineering and Technology
 Earth SciencesPhysical Sciences
 Ecology, Evolution and EnvironmentLife Sciences
 Economics and EconometricsBusiness and Economics
 Education Education
 Electrical and Electronic EngineeringEngineering and Technology
 Endocrinology and MetabolismClinical, Pre-clinical & Health
 Energy and FuelsEngineering and Technology
 EntomologyLife Sciences
 Ethnic StudiesSocial Sciences
FFamily StudiesSocial Sciences
 Film, Radio and TelevisionArts and Humanities
 ForestryLife Sciences
GGastroenterology and HepatologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Genetics and HeredityLife Sciences
 GeographySocial Sciences
 Geriatrics and GerontologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
HHaematologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Health Care Sciences and ServicesClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 HistoryArts and Humanities
 History and Philosophy of ScienceArts and Humanities
IImaging Science and Photographic TechnologyEngineering and Technology
 ImmunologyLife Sciences
 Industrial EngineeringEngineering and Technology
 Infectious DiseasesClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Instruments and InstrumentationEngineering and Technology
 International RelationsSocial Sciences
LLanguages, Philology and Linguistic StudiesArts and Humanities
 Legal MedicineClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Library ScienceSocial Sciences
 LiteratureArts and Humanities
MMarine EngineeringEngineering and Technology
 Materials ScienceEngineering and Technology
 Mathematical Methods in Social SciencesSocial Sciences
 Mathematics and StatisticsPhysical Sciences
 Mechanical EngineeringEngineering and Technology
 MechanicsEngineering and Technology
 Medical EthicsClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Medical InformaticsClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Medical Laboratory TechnologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Medicine, General and InternalClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Metallurgy and Metallurgical EngineeringEngineering and Technology
 Meteorology and Atmospheric SciencesPhysical Sciences
 Mining and Mineral ProcessingEngineering and Technology
 MusicArts and Humanities
 MycologyLife Sciences
NNanotechnologyPhysical Sciences
 Neurosciences and NeurologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Nuclear Science and TechnologyEngineering and Technology
 NursingClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Nutrition and DieteticsClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
OObstetrics and GynaecologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 OncologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Operations Research and Management ScienceEngineering and Technology
 OphthalmologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 OrthopedicsClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 OtorhinolaryngologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
PPaediatricsClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 PalaeontologyLife Sciences
 ParasitologyLife Sciences
 PathologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Pharmacology and PharmacyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health/Life Sciences
 PhilosophyArts and Humanities
 PhysicsPhysical Sciences
 PhysiologyLife Sciences
 Plant SciencesLife Sciences
 Political ScienceSocial Sciences
 Polymer SciencePhysical Sciences
 PsychiatryClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Public AdministrationSocial Sciences
 Public, Environmental and Occupational HealthClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
RRadiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical ImagingClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 RehabilitationClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 Respiratory SystemClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 RheumatologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 RoboticsEngineering and Technology
SSocial IssuesSocial Sciences
 Social WorkSocial Sciences
 SociologySocial Sciences
 Sport SciencesClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 SurgeryClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
TTelecommunicationsEngineering and Technology
 Teacher TrainingEducation
 TheatreArts and Humanities
 Theology and ReligionArts and Humanities
 ToxicologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health/Life Sciences
 TransplantationClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
 TransportationEngineering and Technology
 Tropical MedicineClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
UUrban StudiesSocial Sciences
 Urology and NephrologyClinical, Pre-clinical and Health
VVeterinary SciencesLife Sciences
 VirologyLife Sciences
WWomen's StudiesSocial Sciences
ZZoologyLife Sciences



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THE World University Rankings explained

How are the results of the World University Rankings and Subject Rankings calculated? Read an explanation of the methodology and what the results mean.

September 26 2023
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