Brown slips in world university rankings

Harvard tops THE-QS survey again as local Ivy places 31st

BROWN RECEIVED high marks for the frequency with which its faculty members’ research work is cited by others in academia.
Posted 10/9/09

PROVIDENCE – Brown University slipped four places on an annual list of the world’s 200 best universities, as Harvard took the top spot for the sixth straight year.

Brown fell to No. 31, down from No. 27 in 2008, in the rankings compiled by The Times Higher Education Supplement, a London-based magazine, and Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd., a company that researches higher education.

The THE-QS World University Rankings are based on categories that include surveys of academics and employers; faculty-to-student ratios; success in attracting international students and faculty; and the frequency with which a school’s faculty members are cited in other academic research.

“Despite the many controversies surrounding rankings, their popularity is undeniable,” Jamil Salmi and Roberta Malee Bassett wrote in an article accompanying the rankings.

Brown received an overall score of 83.9. Top-ranked Harvard got a 100.0. It was followed by the University of Cambridge, with a 99.6, and Yale University, which scored a 99.1. Other nearby schools in the top 200 included Boston University (No. 54, down from No. 46 in 2008) and Tufts University (No. 160, down from No. 157).

Brown was boosted by its score of 97 in the faculty citations category, but was pulled down by weak showings in the international staff (53) and international students (55) categories.

The THE-QS list continued to be dominated by schools in the U.S. and the U.K., which took the top 16 spots, after which came the Australian National University (No. 17) and Canada’s McGill University (No. 18). The number of Asian universities on the list continued to grow this year.

In addition to the main list of 200 top schools, the magazine also included rankings in five academic specialties. Brown fell to No. 36 in the arts and humanities field, down from No. 27 last year. Harvard also led that list, followed by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Brown did not make the lists for the other four fields.

“It is imperative that those who produce the rankings continue to create and refine user-friendly mechanisms for reliable comparisons across institutions and systems,” Salmi and Bassett wrote. “And, equally, it falls on the shoulders of consumers of rankings to question and examine the information being presented to them.”

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