Nieuws - 17 augustus 2010

Wageningen climbs higher in world ranking again

Wageningen University has gone up from the 38th to the 36th position on the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in the life sciences. Four years ago, Wageningen was 46th on this ranking, compiled by the University of Shanghai.

The ARWU ranking awards points to universities for the number of publications in top journals such as Science and Nature and for the citation indexes of researchers. In addition, the reputation of their alumni also plays a role, as well as the number of prizes bagged by researchers, such as Nobel prizes. Harvard University from the U.S.A. is the all-time number one on this ranking, a list dominated by American universities. 
The Dutch institutions have done fairly well. On the general list, Utrecht University is at number 50 and Leiden University, 70. Wageningen stands at the shared position of 101-150. Under life sciences - the domain of Wageningen UR - Wageningen is at the 36 th place and Utrecht and the Free University at the shared position of 76-100.
Not transparent
Wouter Gerritsma, specialist in the area of research information at Wageningen UR, cannot explain the rise of Wageningen in the ranks. 'The ranking is not done in a transparent way.' There are two important ranking systems for universities in the world, he says. These are the Shanghai ranking and that of the Times Higher Education. 'The Shanghai list is the most stable one.'
Gerritsma points to a blog of colleague Richard Holmes who has spotted a trend in the ranks. While European and Japanese universities have gone down in the ranks, more universities from China, Korea and Brazil have found their way to the top 50 positions than six years ago.
In this context, Wageningen University's achievement is noteworthy. 'We are very good in the area of life sciences',  declares Gerritsma. 'Just before the start of the summer vacation, Bionieuws calculated the citation impact of Dutch biologists; those from Wageningen came up tops.'