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VU rises to position 116 in the THE World University ranking 2021

2 September 2020
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ranks 116 in the World University Ranking 2021, published by Times Higher Education.

This ranking has been published for 17 years in a row. This year, the ranking includes 1527 institutions from 93 countries, drawing on more than 22000 academic survey responses, and over 86 million citations over five years have been included in the bibliometric analyses.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings is a global performance ranking that judge research-intensive universities across their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. This world university ranking includes 1.527 universities. The ranking examines 13 performance domains grouped into five areas:

  • Teaching: the learning environment and reputation, 30%;
  • Research: volume, income and reputation, 30%;
  • Citations: research influence, 30%;
  • International outlook: staff, students and research, 7.5%; and
  • Industry income: knowledge transfer, 2.5%

With respect to the five categories, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam was ranked highly regarding the category research quality. Furthermore, the university was ranked specifically higher regarding the category teaching, related to the environment and reputation among international students.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and rankings
The several international rankings – such as Leiden ranking, Shanghai ARWU ranking, Times Higher Education World university and Impact ranking, and QS ranking – aim at ranking universities based on several domains: scientific impact, scientific reputation, societal impact and some of them based on the contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Although university rankings can have their shortcomings, all together they do provide an overall picture of an university. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam does underline that it is important to monitor how the outside world and media reflects on the university, and that it is important as well to reflect on its international profile in a broader context than solely scientific impact. In this perspective the other ranking that Times Higher Education publishes, the Impact Ranking of Times Higher Education, is interesting to reflect on. This ranking was developed in 2018 and is innovative as it focuses on universities’ contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG’s). The remarkable result of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, ranked 39 worldwide in this methodology, is that alongside a strong score with respect to research output and excellence, this Impact Ranking represents the distinctive VU-profile with respect to societal impact of the university and the related ambitions with regards to diversity and sustainability.