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The Times Higher Education World University Rankings

In contrast, the THE World University Rankings, which first appeared in 2004, broadened the reliance on research metrics into the more subjective field of reputation.

It used a system of peer review to identify the leading institutions in the eyes of the academic community, allocating 40% of the potential score to the results.

It also sought to measure the international character of universities through the proportion of academic staff of other nationalities.

The exercise was supported by the educational and careers advice company QS, which entered into a partnership with the THES to supply the data.

  • The partnership continued after the THES was renamed Times Higher Education (THE) in 2008 and rankings were published annually until 2009.
  • Dramatically, shortly after the 2009 rankings were published, THE split with QS and entered into a partnership with Thomson Reuters, publishing for the first time in September 2010, and annually thereafter.

The rankings methodology has been modified since 2010, however, making year-on-year comparisons problematic.

  • The main ranking lists a global top 200 in order, and a further 200 universities in broader bands. Universities can also be ranked by geographic region or by six broad subject areas.
  • So it would be possible to establish the leading university in Asia or Europe, or the best university for life sciences or arts and humanities, but not the best for biology or for philosophy.

THE sets out to assess research-led universities across core missions such as teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

  • It uses 13 performance indicators to provide what it calls the most "comprehensive and balanced" comparisons.
  • This year’s ranking places the California Institute of Technology first in the world, ahead of Oxford in the UK and Harvard in the US at equal second.

In 2012 THE launched the 100 Under 50 – a ranking of the top 100 universities that had been operating less than 50 years.

  • The 100 Under 50 rankings use the same 13 indicators as its World University Rankings, but with a methodology recalibrated to reflect the special characteristics of younger universities.

Read more about the California Institute of Technology, the University of Oxford and Harvard.