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Top Universities in the World 2014/15

Top Universities in the World 2014/15 main image

Today marks the release of 10th edition of the QS World University Rankings®, which uses six performance indicators to assess and compare the top universities in the world each year. Throughout the decade in which QS has been publishing the rankings, the very top the table has remained fairly stable, with just some minor shifts in position each year. Indeed, the differences between these top-ranking institutions are incredibly small; all perform impressively well across all of the assessment measures used. (To see how the top universities in the world compare on each performance indicator, visit the interactive ranking table.)

Top 10 Universities in the World

Based on the QS World University Rankings®

 

Country

Position in 2014/15

Position in 2013/14

US

1

1

UK

2=

3

UK

2=

5

US

4

2

UK

5=

4

UK

5=

6

US

7

7

US

8

10

US

9

10

US

10

8

 

The global spread of top universities

As this table illustrates, the top of the ranking is dominated by universities in the US and UK, which each claim half of the top 10 places. A further five US universities and two more UK entrants appear within the top 20, but beyond this the list does become much more internationally diverse. US universities account for 28 of the top 100 places, and UK universities 19 – so in fact more than half of the top universities in the world are located outside of these two nations.

Switzerland’s ETH Zurich, retaining 12th position, is the highest-ranked institution from elsewhere, followed by its country-mate Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) at 17=. Canada’s University of Toronto and McGill University place 20th and 21st respectively, with the National University of Singapore (NUS) following directly behind in 22nd. Also ranked within the global top 30 are France’s Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris (24th), Australian National University (25=) and the University of Hong Kong (28th).

South Korea, Japan, Denmark, China, Germany and the Netherlands all also have at least one representative among the top 50 universities in the world this year, while the top 100 also features universities in Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Taiwan, Belgium and New Zealand. The global top 200 universities are spread across a total of 31 countries.

Success of STEM-focused universities

Another trend reflected at the top of the table is the growing success enjoyed by universities with a focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) spectrum of subjects. This is exemplified by table-topper Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and its fellow US STEM specialist California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which has gained two places this year.

Meanwhile the UK’s Imperial College London, another STEM-focused institution, boasts the biggest leap within the top 10 universities this year, rising from 5th to share second place with the University of Cambridge.

The rankings also suggest a wider-reaching pattern of success for STEM specialists. ETH Zurich and EPFL Lausanne both fall into this category, meaning that STEM-focused universities account for a quarter of the top 20 places. Other science and technology-oriented institutions which have gained ground in this year’s ranking include France’s Ecole Polytechnique ParisTech (climbing six places to 35th), Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (up two places to 39th), and South Korea’s KAIST (rising nine places to reach 51st).

As Danny Byrne writes in this year’s supplement to the rankings, it seems universities focusing on science and technology subjects have been particularly successful at meeting the challenge of balancing “research excellence with small sizes and comprehensive internationalization”.

Written by Laura Bridgestock

The editor of TopUniversities.com, Laura oversees the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edits the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributes to market research reports including How Do Students Use Rankings?

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16 Comments
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Hi Laura,
How can i add the profile of my university so that it features in the ranking.
Thanks.

Hello Laura,
Is there any webpage where I can find out the number of faculty of each university?
I'd like to know the number of faculty you put in when you calculated "Citations per faculty".
And is it possible to check the QS rankings before 2014?
If you aren't in charge of these things, please give me the contact of the person in charge. Thank you in advance :-)

Hi Soyoung, the QS Intelligence Unit should be able to help as they have a number of resources related to the QS World University Rankings available to download for free. The excel table of the results is particularly helpful to work out the scores of each school for student/faculty ratio and citatations per faculty, but for actual numbers of faculty members you may be best off checking with the school in question. The QS WUR 2014/15 supplement is also available for download and has a lot of relevant information if you're looking for a detailed breakdown of the rankings. For previous years, see here. I hope you find what you're looking for! Laura

Laura hi,
What contributed to Imperial's dramatic rise this year to joint second and any comments on why the UK rankings from other sources don't indicate a similar high position for this venerable institution? They still appear to be hung up with Oxford and Cambridge.
RP

Hi RP. First, I'd say it's important to remember that at this level, the gaps between institutions are extremely small - they're all performing at a very closely comparable level. Imperial ranked 6th place in 2012/13, and 5th in 2014/15, so has been making gradual improvements over the past few years. Each ranking uses a different methodology, using a different set of indicators and then weighting these in a certain way, which inevitably leads to different outcomes. You can read about our own methodology here. Imperial scores very well on all six of the performance indicators we use, and you can see how it compares to other leading UK universities in each indicator by using the interactive table, here.

Hope this helps.

Laura

I created a decade ago a website of top ten universities which I considered consistently at the top in my view and really pleased 9 of them still at the top of the world of super elite universities .

How right I was when I created eliteuniversities a decade ago

Hello Laura, I am Asim from Pakistan, Thank you very much for your article. I want to ask which university/ies have the highest acceptance rate for Pakistani students. I have done done my MS and want to apply for the PhD. Also pls tell me whether we have to contact the supervisor first to get admission there in US or only we have to submit the Admission application. My GRE is 142/170 Analytical 149/170 in Quantitative and 3.0/5.0 in comprehensive Essay with TOEFL iBt is 80. Which university best suited to me for Engineering with these scores.

Sorry I have asked so many questions. But I will be grateful if you can answer my all questions.

Hi Uzair, many universities in the US choose their international students without bias to students from particular countries. The application system is often different for PhD students but the information should be readily available on the school's own website. To find a school, see our faculty rankings for a look at the top universities in the US for engineering and technology. Bear in mind that the higher up the rankings you go, the higher the entry requirements are likely to be - requirements will be listed on the schools' official websites under program details. For more information see our graduate guide to studying in the US.

Laura :)

Hello laura,
I am Vikash from India has completed my MSc(CS) in 2014, i want to apply for MS/PhD Program in these top 100 universities. Please tell me that what i have to do for admission ?? and how can i will get notification for admission in these universities???

Hi Vikash. Usually for graduate-level studies, you'll need to apply directly to each university. This usually involves completing an online application process. For more information about applying to universities in different countries, take a look at our country guides. And for more personal advice, you can meet universities around the world and attend admissions seminars at the QS World Grad School Tour, which is free to attend.

Basirahmmed

I am not able to access my account & Every time i log in i cants see the ranking of university

Hi Basirahmmed. Sorry to hear you've had some problems. We can't see any problems with your account - perhaps you could try resetting your password? http://www.topuniversities.com/user/password
Please let us know if you're still experiencing difficulties.

Someone can help me? Every time I log in I can't see the full ranking because with no reason always the page directs me to my profile instead of the ranking, obviously that shouldn't happen, I contacted with QS by email about this problem but still no answers..

Hi Mario. I'm sorry about that - it's a problem we're aware of and our IT team are working on fixing it - just a bug that's got into the system! Thanks so much for your interest in the rankings and the site; please bear with us a little longer while we get this glitch sorted out.
Laura

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