Rankings of universities


Rankings are seductive, simple and sometimes pretty exciting methods to chart the quality of institutes for higher education. On the basis of a number of parameters is each institute awarded a score.

One's ranking position is largely subject to the chosen parameters, the weight attributed, the statistical method used to process this data, and the reliability of the source data. For example, by changing the parameters or attributing a different weight to them, one can easily wipe the floor with any ranking. The global score however is only slightly relevant for individual output in research or education; for spearheads of research within the university, or for its scale.

Ghent University recognises the reality of rankings but does not deliberately strive for high ranking positions. A good position is the result of an internal focus on quality and excellence.

How does Ghent University perform in the rankings?

The Belgian universities get a first-rate ranking on a global scale. The largest Belgian institutes, including Ghent University, are often present in the top-200 of more than 17.000 institutes for higher education of the world.

World rankings

Ghent University
Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Ranking) 2016 62
National Taiwan University Ranking 2015 72
Leiden Ranking 2016 94
U.S. News Best Global Universities Ranking 2016 98
Times Higher Education (THE) World Universities Ranking 2016 118
QS World University Ranking 2016 131
World's most innovative universities 2016 74 (22 in Europe)


Subject rankings

Top 50 Subjects
QS 2017

Veterinary Science (20)

Psychology (34)

Sports-related Subjects (41)

Agriculture & Forestry (46)

Top 100


THE 2014

Life Sciences (47)

Arts and Humanities (88)

QS 2017

Archaeology (51-100)

History (51-100)

Anatomy & Physiology (51-100)

Biological Sciences (51-100)

Nursing (51-100)

Pharmacy and Pharmacology (51-100)

Geography (51-100)

Environmental Sciences (51-100)

Development Studies (51-100)

Law (51-100)

Shanghai 2016

Life and Agriculture Sciences (37)

Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy (76-100)

Social Science (76-100)

Computer Science (76-100)


Most prominent rankings and their methodology

Academic Rankings of World Universities

Since 2003, the Chinese Shanghai Jiaotong University presents an annual Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). For this ranking, 1,200 higher education institutions are compared. Criteria include the number of Nobel Prizes won by alumni and professors, the number of top publications and the number of frequently cited researchers. Since 2010 Ghent University is the only Belgian university among the top 100 in the so-called Shanghai ranking.

National Taiwan University Ranking

Since 2012, the National Taiwan University publishes the “Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities”. It concerns a global top 500 of universities, based on 8 criteria derived from Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science. Research productivity accounts for 25% of the score, research impact for 35%, and research excellence for 40%.

Leiden Ranking

Each year, the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) publishes the Leiden Ranking, a ranking of universities according to the quality of their academic research. The Ranking is based on data from the Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science database. The results show how many publications from a certain university are in the top 1%, 10% or 50%.

U.S. News Best Global Universities Rankings

Since 2014 the American journal U.S. News started publishes a worldwide ranking list of universities based on data from Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science. In addition to the reputation among academics (25%), the research performance derived from the WoS (65%) and the number of PhDs awarded (10%) are also taken into account.

Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings

Times Higher Education (THE) has published the THE World University Rankings since 2004. This ranking is based on thirteen indicators divided in 5 categories with different weights: teaching (accounting for 30% of the score), research (30%), citations (30%), international outlook (7,5%) and industry income (2,5%). Besides data provided by the institutions themselves and bibliometric data from the Scopus database, the ranking is also largely based on a reputation survey among international scholars and employers.

QS World University Rankings

The QS World University Rankings is an annual ranking list of approximately 900 universities selected from a total of around 3500. The Ranking is compiled on the basis of a reputation survey among a large number of academics (accounting for 40% of the score) and a study among employers (10%). The ranking also takes account of the staff-student ratio (20%), citations (20%), and the percentage of international faculty (5%) and international students (5%).

Reuters top 100: World's most innovative universities

This ranking aims to identify the institutions doing the most to advance science and invent new technologies. The ranking is based on objective indicators measuring the number of patents filed in, as well as the number of citations and publications – including those resulting from collaboration with industry.

More information

Research Department - Research Policy and Quality Control Unit
Annik Leyman