24 August 2023

THE Masterclass Webinar “Ranking 101”: Your First Step to THE World University Rankings & Impact Rankings

Ninnart Ratanasukhon
AUN Programme Officer;

Rankings, such as those that are organised by THE, can prove to be valuable assets to universities. Rankings provide insights into a university’s performance, its strength, its weakness, and how it is achieving its own mission. Rankings also serve as an excellent opportunity to build ‘visibility’ for universities. Students, researchers, and academics across the globe consult rankings in their search for their academic destination, and so do industry and governments in exploring potential collaborations and partnerships.

On 17 August 2023, the AUN Secretariat, in collaboration with Times Higher Education (THE), kick-started the THE Masterclass Series with “Ranking 101,” an introductory guide for universities who wish to join THE World University Rankings and Impact Rankings. This masterclass is the first in the three-webinar series that will guide AUN Member Universities and AUN-QA Associate Members to better participation in THE World University Rankings and Impact Rankings through best practices in data management, data submission, and reputation building.

In this first webinar, Ms. Julie Wilkens McMahon, THE’s Regional Director APAC, took the audiences through the basics of THE’s university rankings. What are they? How are they different? How can each university join? And what lies beneath the numbers we all have our eyes on? 

As of presence, Times Higher Education organises three types of university rankings: THE Teaching Rankings, THE World University Rankings, and the latest addition, THE Impact Rankings.

THE Teaching Rankings focus on student satisfaction, universities’ reputation as an employer, graduation rate, and more. However,THE recognises the unique nature of teaching that differs from country to country. Therefore, THE Teaching Rankings have been conducted only in small scopes and are specific to each country.

Meanwhile, THE University Rankings are rankings that assess universities based on their research outputs. Universities who wish to be included in the THE University Rankings must meet three eligibility requirements:

  1. The university must have published at least 1,000 publications over five years period with at least 150 publications per year (according to Scopus’ database)
  2. The university must provide teaching at undergraduate level
  3. The university must provide teaching across multiple disciplines

Universities that fulfil the three eligibility requirements can register to be included in THE World University Rankings with no additional cost.

Universities that take part in THE World Universities Rankings are also automatically included in THE’s sub-rankings of: geographical rankings (e.g. Asia University Ranking), reputation rankings, Young University Rankings (universities that are less than 50 years old), and subject rankings in 11 subject areas.

THE utilises three types of data in producing the rankings: 1. Performance data 2. Reputation data, and 3. Bibliometric data.

Performance data is quantitative data submitted to Times Higher Education by each university. Some examples of performance data gathered by THE included the size of the student body, the number of international students, the number of academic staff, and more. Therefore, emphasised Ms. Julie, data management and data submission are vital in ensuring the smooth registration of a university to THE's rankings. Interested universities can learn more about the best practices of data management and data submission process in the third webinar from THE, “Data Management and Submission,” coming up later in October. Visit Times Higher Education: Empowering Higher Education Worldwide to learn more about the webinar or register here at Times Higher Education Masterclass: Data Management and Submission.

The second type of data gathered by THE is ‘reputation data.’ Reputation data is collected using a reputation survey sent out by THE to academics globally. The participation in the survey is strictly invitational, and universities are not allowed to nominate contact lists and or individuals. Academics that are invited to participate in the survey must have at least one cited research paper and have published in the last five years.

The participating academics will be asked to provide names of 15 universities that they deemed the best in research and teaching in their respective discipline, both in general and from their direct experience. Survey is translated into 12 languages to make it as inclusive as possible.

Lastly, bibliometric data is collected through Elsevier to help THE understand the number of publications and citations.

In the webinar, Ms. Julie also announced to us exciting news that the news methodology of World University Ranking, World University Ranking 3.0 (WUR 3.), is also coming into use. WUR 3.0 features five pillars of criteria: Teaching  (29.5%), Research Environment (29%), Research Quality (30%), International Outlook (7.5%), and Industry (4%).

Under each pillar, new metrics are also introduced, such as publications cited in patent applications (Industry), citation impact (Research Quality), research strength (Research Quality), and study abroad (International Outlook).

Portal for data submission is generally open between January and March each year. Interested universities must select one data provider and one data approver for the submission and register its interest at [email protected].

The latest addition to THE’s rankings is THE Impact Rankings, introduced in 2019. THE Impact Rankings are meant to assess universities against the impact they have made regarding the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ranking is open to all universities that submit data with no additional cost and publication threshold. 

Universities are evaluated using four elements: 1. Research 2. Stewardship 3. Teaching 4. Outreach. Universities do not have to participate in all 17 SDGs ranking but would require to participate in at least four SDGs, with one being SDG17 ‘Partnerships for the Goals,’ to be included in the overall Impact Rankings.

THE uses three types of data in assessing universities for Impact Rankings: 1. Bibliometric 2. Quantitative data, and 3. Qualitative data. 

Like, THE World University Rankings, universities that wish to participate must select a data provider and a data approver for data submission and register their interest at [email protected]. The portal for 2024 Impact Rankings data submission is now open from 18 September - 10 November 2023. The 2024 Impact Rankings will be released at the Global Sustainable Development Congress 2024 on 10-13 June 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Potentials that rankings can unlock for universities in building visibility and reputation can be endless. Explore more how universities can make the most of their rankings in the second webinar by THE: “Internationalisation and Reputation: Lessons in Communication,” coming up on Monday 11 September 2023 at 13:00 (GMT+7) or 14:00 (GMT+8). Interested universities can register now through this link or learn more about the THE Masterclass webinar at Times Higher Education: Empowering Higher Education Worldwide.