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International rankings

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has a strong profile based on its academic and societal impact. In prominent international rankings, we are among the world's top universities.

The Impact Ranking of Times Higher Education (THE) relates specifically to our aspirations as a university, as described in the Strategy 2020-2025. This is especially the case when it comes to our priority area ‘sustainable’ and our profile theme Science for Sustainability. This THE Impact Ranking puts VU Amsterdam in the top 200 worldwide. Unlike the more traditional rankings, which are based largely on research output, the THE Impact Ranking is about the contribution universities make toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations in the areas of policy, education and research.

VU Amsterdam considers the CWTS Leiden Ranking, specifically the top 10 per cent most frequently cited scientific publications (PP top 10%), as the most important indicator of its international position. The same applies to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU/Shanghai Ranking). These two rankings place a high value on objective and quantitative indicators of the quality of research conducted at universities, such as research output, publications and citations. In the 2021 CWTS Leiden Ranking, VU Amsterdam is listed as 79th in the world, 24th in Europe and 4th in the Netherlands. In the Shanghai Ranking, VU Amsterdam is consistently ranked among the top 150 universities worldwide.

This visualisation shows VU Amsterdam’s position in the most prominent international rankings—click on the logos to see our position over the years in the CWTS Leiden Ranking, Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU/Shanghai Ranking), Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings and the QS World University Rankings.

About international rankings
International rankings assess the international visibility of universities on the basis of data regarding research, teaching, academic staff and funding. These rankings give an impression of the quality of education and research at the university, and are primarily aimed at international students and researchers. Each of the rankings uses different indicators and methods to measure the performance of universities worldwide. Dutch universities as a whole are well represented in international rankings and are among the best in the world.

Our position in the international rankings

  • CWTS Leiden Ranking

    In the 2022 edition of the CWTS Leiden Ranking, VU Amsterdam is ranked 68th worldwide, and 4th in the Netherlands.

    The CWTS Leiden Ranking is published annually by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University. This institute has developed a rating system based on bibliometric indicators to measure scientific impact. The CWTS Leiden Ranking focuses on all universities worldwide that have had more than 800 publications indexed in the Web of Science over a four-year period. More than 1,200 universities are included in the ranking.

    CWTS publishes several rankings that are based on the same dataset but assess scientific impact according to different performance indicators. For example, one ranking focuses entirely on the number of publications, while other rankings also factor in the size of the institute. The PP top 10% indicator shows the share of publications that belong to the top 10% most cited publications, in comparison to similar publications in the field. CWTS considers the PP top 10% to be the most important indicator of the CWTS Leiden Ranking. It is the most stable and is not strongly influenced by a single highly-cited article.

  • Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU/Shanghai Ranking)

    In the 2020 edition of the Academic Ranking of World Universities, VU Amsterdam is ranked 131st worldwide.

    See also the news item VU Amsterdam in Shanghai Ranking.

    The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), also known as the Shanghai Ranking, is published annually by Shanghai Jiao Tong University and measures academic excellence according to the following indicators:

    • The number of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals awarded to alumni (10%)
    • The number of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals awarded to staff (20%)
    • The number of frequently cited researchers (20%)
    • The number of indexed articles in the Web of Science (20%)
    • The number of articles published in Nature and Science (20%)
    • The weighted average scores of the above indicators divided by the number of FTEs of academic staff (10%)
  • Times Higher Education World University Rankings

    In the 2022 edition of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, VU Amsterdam is ranked 115th worldwide.

    Since 2011, the THE World University Rankings have been based on a methodology using 13 different performance indicators covering all university activities. These are grouped into five categories:

    • Teaching—learning environment (30%)
    • Research—volume, income and reputation (30%)
    • Citations—research influence (30%)
    • International outlook—staff, students and research (7.5%)
    • Industry income—knowledge transfer (2.5%)
  • Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

    The university's overall position in the Impact ranking 2022 is in the range 201-300. The four SDGs with which VU Amsterdam is most connected are (in order of greatest connection): SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities (# 10), SDG 5 Gender Equality (# 16), SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and infrastructure (# 101-200), SDG 13 Climate Action (# 101-200).

    VU research and education of VU Amsterdam is among the top 15-20 percent of 1406 participating universities worldwide when it comes to impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG's) Reduced inequalities; Gender equality; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; and Climate Action.

    For more information, see the press release.

    The THE Impact Rankings measure the contribution of universities toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the areas of policy, education and research.

  • Times Higher Education Europe Teaching Rankings

    In the 2019 Times Higher Education (THE) Europe Teaching Rankings, VU Amsterdam is ranked 24th in Europe.

    See also the news item VU Amsterdam in THE Europe Teaching Ranking 2019.

  • QS World University Rankings

    In the 2022 edition of the QS World University Rankings, VU Amsterdam is ranked 214th worldwide.

    For more information, see the press release.

    The QS World University Rankings are based on various indicators of reputation and excellence:

    • Academic reputation (40%)
    • Faculty/student ratio (20%)
    • Citations per faculty (20%)
    • Employer reputation (10%)
    • International outlook (10%)