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Top Universities, by any definition
October 18, 2006 10:42 PM   Subscribe

The Top 200 Universities in the World. [logon:mefier/pass:metafilter] For the second year, the Times Higher Education Supplement has exhaustively ranked the top schools in the world. The US, and, to a lesser extent, the UK, dominate the list, but Australia continues to have a strong showing, and China makes more appearances. If you don't like that list, try Newsweek's Top 100 Global Universities, or the ranking by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which looks at Nobel Prizes and highly cited articles, or just judge universities by their age. All of this a little too global? Washington Monthly rates universities by how they contribute to social mobility and the US as a whole, Mother Jones ranks by social activism, and Young America's Foundation lists the 10 best conservative colleges. [prev.]
posted by blahblahblah (69 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't think that login is working. I keep getting sent back to the "subscribe here" page. (Or I could just be daft...)
posted by pompomtom at 11:04 PM on October 18, 2006


Not working for me either.
posted by brain_drain at 11:13 PM on October 18, 2006


it works for me... go #46!
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:37 PM on October 18, 2006


actually, 46, 23, and 11, depending on which survey you look at. Anyway the point of the story is that I went to a better college than you.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:38 PM on October 18, 2006


Worked for me.

They don't differentiate state schools by campus..
posted by unmake at 11:41 PM on October 18, 2006


doesn't work.

Though these surveys are usually kind of pointless -- what matters is YOUR education, your attitude, your desire to learn, the approachability of your professors, what opportunities there may be. And all of these factors vary depending on if you are first year, fourth year, MA student, PHD student, post-doc, faculty, what department is in question, whatever. Not to doubt the top places are generically good, but you can get a great education in a lot of places if you have the right attitude.
posted by Rumple at 11:58 PM on October 18, 2006


I do not approve of McGill being ahead of U of T.

*Shakes fist*

And Montreal sucks. Go Leafs!
posted by Alex404 at 12:02 AM on October 19, 2006


I say go #35 all the way =]

Sydney, for those of you that can't be bothered to look it up.
posted by cholly at 12:11 AM on October 19, 2006


Here here Alex. McGill is a shadow of what it once was.
posted by lemur at 12:20 AM on October 19, 2006


Here here...

Have they stopped teaching English?
posted by claudius at 12:30 AM on October 19, 2006


#25 - not bad, but the recruiter review for UCL is teh sux0r!
posted by davehat at 12:34 AM on October 19, 2006



Here here...


Thats U of Toronto in a nutshell.
posted by Rumple at 12:37 AM on October 19, 2006


Whoohoo, McGill's # 21- but don't feel too bad Alex & Lemur, on the Newsweek poll they've got U of T up at 18, and McGill down at 42.
posted by Flashman at 12:59 AM on October 19, 2006


Here's a jpg of them.

And of course these tables matter.
#3
posted by edd at 1:06 AM on October 19, 2006


Blocks on referer, so just copy and paste the link into a window.
posted by edd at 1:06 AM on October 19, 2006


Shout out to the Blues, but really? 18 in Newsweek? That's unexpected. Also, go 31!
posted by phyrewerx at 1:08 AM on October 19, 2006


These rankings are pointless. I don't think that all rankings would be pointless—rankings of individual departments' research or teaching strengths would be quite useful. But I think these rankings can actually be quite misleading. Some of the best universities in my field are not near the top of this list. It would be a big mistake to pick some of the universities at the top of this list for studying, a job, or anything really. Just depends on what you need from the university and what field you are in.

Also, one might be able to get a better undergraduate education at a non-research university that focuses on teaching (unlike those that dominate this list).

As someone who currently attends the #2 university on this list, I can safely say this without being accused of sour grapes.

someday we're going to knock Harvard off that little perch of theirs

posted by grouse at 3:29 AM on October 19, 2006


#73? Behind Manchester? Pah.
posted by patricio at 3:58 AM on October 19, 2006


#76 and #96 are the same university.

'Nuff said about the pointlessness of this type of ratings.
posted by ruelle at 4:11 AM on October 19, 2006


What I find odd is that the w, which regularly ranks #1 in Canada in the MacLean's Canadian university rankings survey, is nowhere to be found on the list. Lends a bit more credence to the claims from some of the more "ivy-league" (ie UofT) that the MacLean's survey is bogus. Although I don't believe it, Waterloo ruuuules!
posted by antifuse at 4:12 AM on October 19, 2006


Patricio: Agreed!
posted by knapah at 4:20 AM on October 19, 2006


#76 and #96 are the same university.

Not since 1968
posted by snownoid at 4:31 AM on October 19, 2006


Pennsylvania University? There's no such thing. I assume that they mean "The University of Pennsylvania" because (The) Pennylvania State University is listed farther down. They do the same thing with The University of Pittsburgh which they list as Pittsburgh University. I'm not sure how much I trust this list if they can't even get the names of the schools correct.
posted by octothorpe at 4:42 AM on October 19, 2006


Yay! I have attended three of the top four institutions. Why then do I feel so dumb?
posted by snoktruix at 4:47 AM on October 19, 2006


go #1!
posted by snofoam at 4:54 AM on October 19, 2006


#177

That's what you get for staying in Norway I suppose. I'm in humanities though.
posted by flippant at 5:09 AM on October 19, 2006


I have been at #156 as well.
posted by flippant at 5:10 AM on October 19, 2006


Another login for those who can't get the metafilter/metafilter to work: mefi2 pw:cameras
posted by handee at 5:29 AM on October 19, 2006


I went to no.78, Trinity College Dublin, and am happy to see some Irish representation, not that it means anything to me at this point. I've never even heard of half of these places (ETH Zurich, Ting Hua University) but I suppose I'm not all that interested in colleges these days.
posted by jamesonandwater at 5:36 AM on October 19, 2006


Berkeley's international student score really stands out as low among the top few dozen listed non-asian universities.
posted by jamesonandwater at 5:39 AM on October 19, 2006


Glad to see that Tufts ranks #130, below the vastly less expensive UMass of Amherst. It didn't even make the other lists. Why did I pay for that place again?
posted by cmicali at 5:46 AM on October 19, 2006


No Best Colleges For Getting Laid? Wotta useless list.
posted by jonmc at 6:21 AM on October 19, 2006


Your favourite university ranking system sucks.
posted by hangashore at 6:54 AM on October 19, 2006


Number 4/3, woo-hoo! I can now look down my nose at everyone but grouse and snofoam, to whom I will henceforth grovel.
posted by languagehat at 6:58 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Behind Manchester? Pah.

Nowadays, Manchester = (Victoria?) University of Manchester + UMIST. In combination, I think they bounded up a few notches in nearly all of these sorts of polls.
posted by davehat at 7:04 AM on October 19, 2006


woo. #15.

where's my fish to throw at Harvard?
posted by Stynxno at 7:06 AM on October 19, 2006


Pennsylvania University? There's no such thing. I assume that they mean "The University of Pennsylvania" because (The) Pennylvania State University is listed farther down. They do the same thing with The University of Pittsburgh which they list as Pittsburgh University.

Funny that they would do that but still call the "University of Oxford" and the "University of Cambridge" by their proper names (despite the fact that so many people call these institutions "Oxford University" and "Cambridge University" that not even a pedant would call those appellations incorrect).
posted by grouse at 7:10 AM on October 19, 2006


Glad to see that Tufts ranks #130, below the vastly less expensive UMass of Amherst. It didn't even make the other lists. Why did I pay for that place again?

Woo. Go Jumbos.
posted by danb at 7:13 AM on October 19, 2006


Ecole nationale d'administration doesn't make any of these lists?

#73? Behind Manchester? Pah.

Nonsensical really when you consider that not that long ago Warwick had a better MBA than Harvard.

#73? #46. Go #2/#3 rejects!
posted by dmt at 7:14 AM on October 19, 2006


(I used to work at a magazine store in New Haven right on the border area between Yale and and the beginning of the 'hood. The residents of both areas seemed to be engaged in a perpetual contest as to who could drive me more insane. Anyway, the week the US News & World Report came out choosing Yale as the country's top college, we had to get hundreds of copies, since the Yalies kept pouring in the door asking for it. Maybe they mailed it to their parents or framed and put it on the wall, or drove up to Cambridge and waved it the Harvard kids faces. At any rate, by the end of that week I wanted to knock all their little ivy-covered heads off)

/flashback
posted by jonmc at 7:18 AM on October 19, 2006


Why are you posting a link to a subscription only site, a paid subscription only site?
posted by caddis at 7:32 AM on October 19, 2006


You are all such nerds!

#23
posted by Pastabagel at 7:36 AM on October 19, 2006


You guys is wikkit smaat.
posted by jonmc at 7:37 AM on October 19, 2006


Yeah, U Waterloo is consistently touted as #1 in Canada. The three school listed from Canada are much bigger than UW though and all have major medical schools and much older pedigrees. Waterloo is a fairly niche school compared to those I suppose. Still, we rule because you're all checking you Blackberries to see if you're #1 and well, we made those. So, nyah nyah.
posted by GuyZero at 7:41 AM on October 19, 2006


Pennsylvania University? There's no such thing. I assume that they mean "The University of Pennsylvania" because (The) Pennylvania State University is listed farther down. They do the same thing with The University of Pittsburgh which they list as Pittsburgh University.

University/college names are a very complex system, differing from place to place. Language Log has done a series of posts on them; here's the basic information, from which I excerpt this:
Here's the thing: in the U.K., the official names of universities with place names in them are (I think) all of the prepositional form, "University of X", but almost all of these names can vary freely with the premodifying "X University". "The University of Sussex" and "Sussex University" are SYNONYMS, and the latter is not notably informal. If you go to the websites for the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, you'll immediately see premodifying references: "a brief history of Cambridge University", "information about: Oxford University". And the legal names of their presses are premodifying: Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press...

The alternation between prepositional and premodifying forms is so natural for the British that they find the rigid American naming schemes bizarre; surely, "Arizona University" is just another way of saying "the University of Arizona", they think, and are annoyed to be told sternly that there is NO SUCH UNIVERSITY as Arizona University.
And here's a follow-up with a section on the situation mentioned by ruelle and snownoid:
For a truly serious translation problem, consider the Free University of Brussels. A perfectly good English name for what was once a single institution, which had -- remember, this is Belgium -- both a name in French (Université Libre de Bruxelles, or ULB) and a name in Dutch (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, or VUB). If you were a student there and someone asked you in English what university you went to, no problem: Free University of Brussels.

But then, this being Belgium, the two parts became separate institutions, in 1969. And kept the old names in French and Dutch. So now if you're a student at one of them and someone asks you in English what university you go it, you have a choice: reply in French or Dutch, whichever is appropriate, or give the now-ambiguous translation "Free University of Brussels", or resort to something like "the French/Dutch Free University of Brussels", supplying material that's not in the original language (and potentially introducing other sorts of ambiguities).
posted by languagehat at 7:43 AM on October 19, 2006


Well, the course I'm currently taking has modules taught by #s 9, 17, 25 & 46 from the first link - given that none of these award degrees (they are awarded by the University of London) I'm not sure how they distinguish between them.



Was previously at #3
posted by daveg at 7:49 AM on October 19, 2006


The College of William and Mary is NOT on the Liberal Arts list, but fucking Virgina Military Institute and Susequhana U are? Shenanigans!!
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:09 AM on October 19, 2006


I just moved from #2 to #1. I think that means next year I'm going to have to cycle through. Paris IV, here I come.

I always forget how ridiculous these international comparisons are. Just when you think USNews is the worst, you catch one of these.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:14 AM on October 19, 2006


Languagehat: None of that changes the fact that a school's name is a single copy-written atom. My alma-mater has the exclusive rights to use the name "University of Pittsburgh" and would not be happy about people randomly re-arranging the component words in that name.
posted by octothorpe at 8:18 AM on October 19, 2006


None of that changes the fact that a school's name is a single copy-written atom in the United States.

Of course this isn't an American newspaper and I think languagehat was pointing out that they might not be familiar with American style in this regard.
posted by grouse at 8:35 AM on October 19, 2006


And one of these days I'll figure out whether I should call it "The University of Texas" or "the University of Texas." Seems like just about everyone besides the university uses the lowercase "the." Then again, there are others who refer to it in shorthand as "The University."
posted by grouse at 8:38 AM on October 19, 2006


Waterloo has never placed first overall in Canada - it has only placed first overall among non-law-school/non-Med-School Universities. McGill and UofT have always been at the top of that (higher tier) list.

Waterloo is probably the most interesting university in Canada and has been for some time, and David Johnston taking the top job there is a huge validation of its importance (he was principle of McGill for almost 20 years), but there is a distinction between Universities with Med and Law schools and those without.

As far as McGill is concerned, I underestimated the education I got there until I went to grad school at another institution and found that I was much better prepared than my colleagues. Which was great, cause I could focus on a) getting a job to pay for it and b) having fun. Both of which I promptly did.

Interesting to see that the University of Alberta is probably greatly under-ranked due to its low profile - they have a lot going for them, including one of Canada's largest research libraries (puts McGill - or indeed all of Quebec's universities combined to shame). Not as big as UofT, but pretty good.
posted by mikel at 8:50 AM on October 19, 2006


Glad to see I'm not the only one at my uni wasting spending time on MeFi
posted by djgh at 9:01 AM on October 19, 2006


Still, we rule because you're all checking you Blackberries to see if you're #1 and well, we made those. So, nyah nyah..

Or, to be precise, the unholy merger between interest-peddling craven corporatism and soul-less engineering that calls itself "Military-Industrial University of Waterloo" made those.

I kid because I love
posted by Rumple at 9:27 AM on October 19, 2006


Waterloo is probably the most interesting university in Canada and has been for some time, and David Johnston taking the top job there is a huge validation of its importance (he was principle of McGill for almost 20 years), but there is a distinction between Universities with Med and Law schools and those without.

Indeed there is. Waterloo's attempt to do an end-run around those institutions with it's odd expansion strategy and things like co-branded pharmacy schools is still in the works. Whether it will be successful in the end... who knows. You'd think that there's enough demand to build a new medical school in this country, but for whatever reason it's not in the cards.

But let me say that few other institutions (none?) offer exciting degrees like the joint degree in Biotechnology/Chartered Accountancy.

"Military-Industrial University of Waterloo"

Yesterday FORTRAN, today Blackberries, tomorrow... THE WORLD!

Seriously, Waterloo is very different from every other (well, most, I haven't checked them all) university on that list in that it allows researchers to keep all of their intellectual property. They lose money in the short run and attract better researchers and build a stronger academic-industrial ecosystem in the long run. At least, that's the theory.
posted by GuyZero at 10:23 AM on October 19, 2006


Macquarie University...I am somewhat proud of you. #82.

I didn't even think you'd make the list.

Macquarie University is in the Guiness Book of World Records for the largest tequila slam in the world. July 2003.
posted by wilde at 10:34 AM on October 19, 2006


How interesting that Waterloo is the only school to get any sustained discussion on this thread. In my opinion they are rightfully not on the list.

I did my undergrad there and am now at UBC. It felt like I had moved from the sticks to the city. UBC administration is better, it has better connections with international research communities, and it is generally stronger across the board.

Waterloo is world-class in a few key departments but by far its biggest strength is its connection to industry through co-op and spinoff companies. But in terms of research and graduate studies, which is what really makes a university famous, they have a long way to go.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:50 AM on October 19, 2006


Of course, whether "famous" equals "best" is an open question. But fame comes from the tried and true academic value system, which rewards research breakthroughs above all else. You would need a pretty compelling argument for another value system.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:52 AM on October 19, 2006


You would need a pretty compelling argument for another value system.

If I wanted to go to a university to learn, my primary value would be how good they were at teaching. Which may be entirely unrelated to their fame or academic value. I think that is pretty compelling.

Of course there are other advantages to going to a famous university—there may be more non-classroom opportunities, and the line on your resume may help you in the job search.
posted by grouse at 12:28 PM on October 19, 2006


if you are in an environment where you interact with the other students more than the faculty, then the quality of the students is actually the primary value.
posted by snofoam at 4:33 PM on October 19, 2006


Yay! Not listed!
If you attend a university that is "weaker", a list like this can feel very condescending, especially if you are a student who is academically oriented. When people at other schools talk about their wealth, their connections, I fight to keep cool about it. Some of my friends got depressed at the poor academic standards of the students, and fermented hatred at their life.

There are definitely plus sides to being at a lower-grade school, notably the easy access to leadership (more to put on your resume), the opportunities the university is desperate for people to take up, and also the extraordinary effort that being in the ghetto has upon students to want to save themselves.
posted by niccolo at 4:35 PM on October 19, 2006


Hmm, they added a 0 to #1. Which we really are.
posted by oaf at 8:25 PM on October 19, 2006


There are definitely plus sides to being at a lower-grade school, notably the easy access to leadership

A lot of the top universities are small giving you access to top professors. It's kind of fun to go have an office hours meeting with the guy who wrote the textbook most students in the country are using.
posted by caddis at 9:02 PM on October 19, 2006


Waterloo is a very good university, and I didn't even go there (showing I'm not being partisan). They made the first computerised OED at Waterloo.

Of course, Toronto has the Dictionary of Old English. That's pretty tough to beat.

Being at a top university does give you connections to people who are very good in their field (and connections can be very important), but I'm not sure it's always the best teaching experience. Kudos in academia comes from research, not teaching; there are a few rare individuals who are both excellent researchers and excellent teachers, but they are rare. On average, I haven't found lectures at Yale in the States better than York in Toronto, and the curriculum as a whole is not as well thought out. I have now taught for the man who wrote one of the textbooks I used at York, but I think I preferred my York teacher in that subject, who was much clearer. (He did set a high standard; his expertise was in education history, and he paid attention to education research).

I admit, I do get a little miffed because I know that York is rarely on these type of lists (despite actually just as good a research university as many at the bottom end of the best 200 -- but it's not very selective to get into). But in reality the lists have little bearing on the lives of most students. Only people of certain classes really choose universities from around the country or around the world, and in Canada, even the middle class stay at home. As an undergrad, I had a choice of three universities in my city, only two of which even had a degree program in the subject I wanted. I chose the one with the more interesting first year courses. As a graduate student, I chose my university based on the researcher who was there in my chosen subject - which is the way I hope most graduate students chose, after funding issues. The quality of a university becomes very hollow if there is no one there to supervise you in what you would like to study.
posted by jb at 8:36 AM on October 20, 2006


I'm just happy that Canadian universities are dominating this discussion. This is how things should always be ;)
posted by jb at 8:38 AM on October 20, 2006


But changing from the pleasant Canadian focus: what do people think of the Washington post ranking? I think it's very interesting, not the specific ranking, but the criteria.

I like the idea of the university, even private universities, as public institutions which do owe something back to the public which supports them (directly or indirectly), though it could be controversial if the public in the form of the government started demanding results.
posted by jb at 8:44 AM on October 20, 2006


And one of these days I'll figure out whether I should call it "The University of Texas" or "the University of Texas." Seems like just about everyone besides the university uses the lowercase "the." Then again, there are others who refer to it in shorthand as "The University."

grouse, it's "The University of Texas at Austin" the first time you refer to it and then "the university" or "the University" thereafter. (scroll to the bottome of the page.)
posted by donajo at 9:16 AM on October 20, 2006


donajo, if you will re-read my comment, you will notice that I already know what the university prefers.
posted by grouse at 10:21 AM on October 20, 2006


Well, you left out the crucial "at Austin" part. Plus, I wanted an excuse to link to that site.
posted by donajo at 1:27 PM on October 20, 2006


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