Shanghai, the world’s best universities according to THE and QS rankings

What are the best universities in the world? To find out, we decipher the results of international rankings: the Shanghai ranking, a reference for world universities, as well as Times Higher Education and QS.

What are the methodologies for creating the ranking of the best universities in the world?

There are different rankings to determine the best universities in the world: Shanghai’s is considered a reference, but we can also consider the Times Higher Education or QS rankings. Each of them has its own methodology that explains its differences.

Shanghai rating directs its rating to research. Thus, the Shanghai ranking evaluates six criteria related to research activities:

  • Number of Nobel Prize or Fields Medal faculty-researchers (20% grade)
  • Number of “highly cited researchers” (20%)
  • Number of articles published in Nature and Science journals from 2017 to 2021 (20%)
  • Number of articles in Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Science Citation Index in 2021 (20%)
  • Number of Nobel Prize or Fields Medal Alumni (10%)
  • Academic indicator per capita: the score calculated from the previous five indicators, divided by the permanent academic staff (10%).

criteria maintained by Time Higher Education It is close to those in Shanghai and can be summarized as follows:

  • Teaching: reputation survey, student-staff ratio, ratio of doctoral students to undergraduate graduates, ratio of awarded doctoral students to academic staff, institutional revenue.
  • Search: reputation query, search revenue, search productivity.
  • Scientific publication citations: the average number of citations of a work published by academics.
  • International: share of international students and staff, international cooperation.
  • Industry: knowledge transfer to industry.

To create the annual ranking, QS World University Rankings also based on reputation and international student/faculty ratio criteria:

  • Academic reputation (Research)
  • Reputation on the employer’s side
  • Degree of student supervision
  • Proportion of international teachers
  • Proportion of international students
  • Citation rate of publications per teacher.

Shanghai Ranking ranks the top 1000 universities in the world

According to Academic Ranking of World Universities (Arwu), Shanghai Ranking is among the “1000 best research universities in the world”.

In this world ranking, American and Anglo-Saxon universities have dominated the top of the ranking since its creation in 2003. At the top: Harvard remains in first place, ahead of Britain’s Cambridge University, behind Stanford University and MIT.

The United States is 15 in Shanghai’s top 20, and the UK is three!

The world’s top 10 Shanghai 2022 World Ranking

Enterprise country Rating 2021 Rating 2022 Evolution 2021–2022
Harvard University United States of America 1 1 0
Stanford University United States of America 2 2 0
MIT United States of America 4 3 1
University of Cambridge Great Britain 3 4 -1
University of California, Berkeley United States of America 5 5 0
Princeton University United States of America 6 6 0
University of Oxford Great Britain 7 7 0
Columbia University United States of America 8 8 0
California Institute of Technology United States of America 9 9 0
University of Chicago United States of America 10 10 0


Where is France in the Shanghai Ranking?

University of Paris-SaclayFrance’s leading university remains in the world’s top 20 in 2022, but has dropped three places to 16th in 2022. Three more French companies are in the top 100:

  • Paris Science and Letters (40th),
  • Sorbonne University (43rd),
  • University of Paris-Cite (78th).

In total, 28 French enterprises were included in the Shanghai rating.

Top 10 universities in the world by Times Higher Education (THE).

Published since 2010, this world ranking compiled by the British monthly Times Higher Education (THE) evaluates higher education institutions in terms of both research and teaching activities and impact.

Top 10 universities according to THE 2023
University of Oxford (England)
Harvard University (USA)
University of Cambridge (England)
Stanford University (USA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA)
California Institute of Technology (United States): The university where the characters of The Big Bang Theory work
Princeton University (USA)
University of California (USA)
Yale University (USA)
Imperial College London (England)

Where do French universities rank in THE ranking?

France has 42 institutions among the 1,799 institutions ranked by THE for 2023, three more than in the 2022 edition.

Four French institutions are among the world’s top 100 institutions for 2023: Paris University of Sciences and Lettres (PSL), 47th; Sorbonne University, 90; Paris-Saclay University, 93; and Polytechnic Institute of Paris, 95.

World universities at the top of the QS World University Rankings 2023

Among 1,500 companies audited worldwide QS rating provides a high ranking similar to other world university rankings, namely:

1st: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
2nd: University of Cambridge
3rd: Stanford University
4th: Oxford
5th: Harvard

Still, the first places in international rankings are occupied by American or Anglo-Saxon universities.

Global Top 10 QS Ranking 2023

Rank University country
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States of America
2 University of Cambridge Great Britain
3 Stanford University United States of America
4 University of Oxford Great Britain
5 Harvard University United States of America
6 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) United States of America
7 Imperial College London Great Britain
8 UCL (University College London) Great Britain
9 ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) swiss
10 University of Chicago United States of America

Read also

In this new edition of the ranking, two French universities consolidate their position in the top 50 of the QS 2023 ranking: Paris Saclay University and Paris Polytechnic Institute. In total, 32 French universities are ranked 7th in the world in the QS ranking.

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