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Rankings

The high quality of research and education at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam can be demonstrated by its excellent performance in international rankings.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam shows an excellent scientific and societal impact. The high quality of research and education at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam can be demonstrated by its excellent performance in international rankings. The following rankings are well known in the context of universities worldwide: The Leiden ranking, The Shanghai Ranking, The Times Higher Education World University Ranking, Times Higher Education Impact ranking and QS ranking. These rankings aim at evaluating the research excellence, educational excellence and reputation of the universities. Each ranking uses a different set of indicators. As a result, the position of a particular university may vary depending on the ranking’s methodology. The visualization below shows the position of VU over time, in the five most well-known international rankings: Leiden CWTS Ranking, ARWU Shanghai Ranking, THE WUR Ranking, THE Impact Ranking and the QS Ranking.

Times Higher Education’s (THE) Impact ranking 2020 specifically, relates to the ambitions of the university as described in the Strategy 2020-2025 and with respect to the profile theme Science for Sustainability. This Impact ranking aims at evaluating the contribution of 766 participating institutions worldwide with regards to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG's). Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ranks number 39 worldwide regarding the 17 SDGs, and additionally ranks second in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2020 when it comes to taking action against climate change – SDG 13. 

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam - International Scientific and societal impact in 2019-2020:

Background and positioning in the various international rankings:

  • Unlike many other countries, the Netherlands does not have a ranking system for universities. However, a range of studies have shown Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam to be one of the most excellent universities in the country. The Netherlands has a binary system of Higher Education with 13 research universities, including Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and 40 universities of applied sciences. The Dutch research universities are all of high academic quality, and consistently ranked among the first 250 universities in international rankings. Only the US and UK feature more research universities in the top 200. In no other system except for Switzerland, the proportion of all research universities in the top 250 is this high. The visualization below shows the positions of Dutch universities in the most well-known international rankings.
  • Performance evaluation of universities is a concept of increasing global interest. University rankings specifically, have become more prominent in higher education systems, in related media and/or to stakeholders. In the last decade specifically, additional rankings have been introduced, and the methodology and complexity of existing rankings has increased. The rankings can be informative concerning performance related to specific indicators - if properly interpreted. In addition, the European University Association has predicted that the university rankings are here to stay (EUA, 2011).
  • In this visual, you can click on the logo of the desired ranking to see VU Amsterdam's position for that specific ranking.

More information

  • Leiden CWTS Ranking

    The Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) of Leiden University has developed a ranking system based on bibliometric indicators. This Leiden CWTS ranking focuses on all universities worldwide with more than 400 Web of Science indexed publications per year. Consequently the 500 largest universities (in terms of publication numbers) in the world are covered. Several ranking lists are published by the Leiden ranking. Each list is based on the same data but calculated using different impact indicators. For instance one list focuses entirely on impact, while others also take into account scale (size of the institution). 

    The PP10% indicator reflects the proportion of the publications of a university that, compared with other similar publications, belong to the top 10% most frequently cited. CWTS regards the PP-top 10% indicator as the most important impact indicator of the Leiden Ranking because it is the most stable impact indicator and cannot be strongly influenced by a single highly cited article. In 2019 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is ranked on the 85th position of the Leiden Ranking, based on the PP10%. More information on the Leiden rankings can be found at www.leidenranking.com.

  • Shanghai Ranking

    The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) or Shanghai Ranking is a global ranking published annually by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. This ranking is based on the following indicators: 

    • the number of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals awarded to alumni (10% of the overall ranking score)
    • the number of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals awarded to staff members (20%)
    • the number of highly cited researchers (20%)
    • the number of articles indexed by Web of Science (20%)
    • the number of articles published in Nature and Science. (20%)
    • the weighted scores of the above five indicators divided by the number of full time equilvalent academic staff (10%)

    In 2019-2020 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has been ranked 103rd best world university in academic excellence in Academic Ranking of World Universities of Shanghai ranking. For more information see the related VU news mention regarding the Shanghai ranking, the related website of Shanghai ARWU ranking and the visual of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in international rankings the past years.

  • Times Higher Education World University Ranking

    The Times Higher Education World University Ranking is based on a new methodology since 2011, using 13 separate performance indicators capturing different university activities. These 13 indicators are brought together into five headline categories, which are: 
    • Teaching — the learning environment (worth 30% of the overall ranking score) 
    • Research — volume, income and reputation (30%) 
    • Citations — research influence (32.5%) 
    • Industry income — innovation (2.5%) 
    • International mix — staff and students (5%) 

    The teaching and research scores are partly based on academic reputation surveys (15% and 19.5% respectively). Please find attached the related VU news mention regarding the Times Higher Education WUR, and the related websites of THE World university ranking.

    Furthermore, Times Higher Education (THE) has released the Impact ranking 2020. The Impact ranking aims at evaluating the contribution of 766 participating institutions worldwide with regards to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). The contribution of these universities consists of research, outreach and stewardship related to the 17 SDG’s. The Impact ranking has been published for the third year in a row, and for two years now the ranking is mainly based on the structure of and data regarding the 17 SDG’s. 

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ranks number 39 worldwide regarding the 17 SDGs, and additionally ranks second in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2020 when it comes to taking action against climate change – SDG 13. The high score on 'Climate Action' is due to the university's attention to the theme of Science for Sustainability. With this theme, VU Amsterdam creates conditions under which people, the environment and the economy come into balance without exhausting the earth. This is done by linking fundamental scientific knowledge with knowledge about implementing sustainable changes in society. Science for Sustainability is the theme in which several faculties and parts of VU Amsterdam are involved. The focus is on the entire chain of fundamental and applied research, and its applications in practice. With the knowledge that results from this, VU Amsterdam enables its students to contribute to a better world and prepares students for a sustainable career. 

    The evaluation is performed by calculating a score based on four SDG’s: three SDG’s with the highest score per university (e.g. specific), and the score related to SDG 17 (e.g. overarching). For every SDG a set of question has been answered by the participating universities: 8 to 10 questions per SDG regarding student data, staff data, financial data, and university policy related to the SDG (e.g. applicable policy/working groups/activities, the exchange of open source policy documents, and a keyword match by Times Higher Education). 

    The focus on university policy is what makes this ranking specifically different from other more traditional rankings, which up until now predominantly have focused on research output, excellence and reputation. This gives universities the opportunity to highlight their societal connection, impact and activities for example related to SDG’s such as quality education, gender equality and climate action. 

    According to Times Higher Education, these are the first international rankings to use such indicators of sustainability and impact. While universities in more wealthy countries occupy the highest ranks - as might be expected, the indicators reflect more diversity than more traditional indicators such as global reputation and research quality. In other words, activities that promote sustainability both locally and internationally are more in reach of younger institutions with less funding. 

    Up until 2020 Times Higher Education has published the European Teaching ranking as well. The results of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: Europe’s 24th best university in the European Teaching Ranking of Times Higher Education (THE European teaching ranking 2019). Please find attached the related VU news mention regarding the European Teaching Ranking and the related website of Times Higher Education.

  • QS Ranking

    The QS ranking (Quacquarelli Symonds) is a worldwide ranking of universities regarding performance in reputatie and excellence, based on the indicators academic reputation (40%), faculty student ratio (20%), citations per faculty (20%), employer reputation (10%), and international outlook (10%). 

    The QS Ranking of 2020 places VU Amsterdam 236th in the world 2020. In this specific ranking, academic reputation shows to be the strongest indicator of VU Amsterdam. The recent ranking covers a positive development of increasing scores, and specifically testifies to increasing scores in international ratios (staff/student ratios) and academic reputation.

    The results of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the QS ranking, as well as the result per subject (QS ranking by subject), can be found in the visualization below. For more information see the corresponding VU news mentioning Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in QS ranking, and the website of the QS ranking.