Science - October 6, 2011

Wageningen among top 100 universities

Wageningen UR makes a triumphant entry into the top-100 of the world's best universities. It has climbed from position 144 to position 75 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

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Other Dutch universities have also moved up spectacularly on the rankings. Utrecht University has shot from position 143 to 68, and is therefore the best Dutch university. Leiden University (79 th ) and the University of Amsterdam (92 nd ) are also in the top-100. No Dutch university has been placed here in the previous Times Higher Education (THE) ranking.
The list has been readjusted in many ways because of a new methodology used by the English publisher. The big news - in England as well - is that the Netherlands has the third best university system in the world, with twelve universities in the top-200. The United States leads the country list with 75 universities in the top-200, followed by England with 32 universities. Germany and the Netherlands share the third position. It is also striking that Harvard, the all-time champion, has fallen to a shared second position.
In the other key global university ranking system, the Shanghai index (ARWU), the position of the Dutch universities has in fact taken a fall. Wageningen is at the shared position of 101-150, from being at 101-150 in the previous ARWU ranking. This index attaches more weight, for example, to the number of Nobel prize winners, while THE places more emphasis on education performance. Just the ticket for the Dutch universities.
How the ranking is done further remains a mystery, says information specialist Wouter Gerritsma, who supplied Wageningen's particulars to the world ranking. 'Last year, Times Higher had been criticised a lot, so it has adjusted the criteria for quality determination. But I'm not sure what exactly, I do know, however, that our publication scores have improved after the dip in the number of publications following the merger between the university and DLO. The citation scores are also higher than last year's. Publications and citations together account for 60 percent in the ranking. In addition, we also score well in the number of international MSc students, something which was not counted previously.'
While Gerritsma takes the rankings with a pinch of salt, he says that their significance cannot be underestimated. 'It is unique that a specialized university such as Wageningen scores so high in the general rankings. International students are influenced partly by these rankings in their choice. If you're among the top 100, then you're somebody. We will now be looked upon with even more respect by overseas universities.'

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