Academic Ranking of World Universities

About Academic Ranking of World Universities

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) is first published in June 2003 by the Center for World-Class Universities (CWCU), Graduate School of Education (formerly the Institute of Higher Education) of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, and updated on an annual basis. ARWU uses six objective indicators to rank world universities, including the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Scientific, number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index - Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index, and per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution. More than 1000 universities are actually ranked by ARWU every year and the best 500 are published on the web.

Although the initial purpose of ARWU was to find the global standing of top Chinese universities, it has attracted a great deal of attention from universities, governments and public media worldwide. ARWU has been reported by mainstream media in almost all major countries. Hundreds of universities cited the ranking results in their campus news, annual reports or promotional brochures. A survey on higher education published by The Economist in 2005 commented ARWU as "the most widely used annual ranking of the world's research universities". Burton Bollag, a reporter at Chronicle of Higher Education wrote that ARWU "is considered the most influential international ranking".

One of the factors for the significant influence of ARWU is that its methodology is scientifically sound, stable and transparent. The EU Research Headlines reported ARWU work on 31st December 2003: "The universities were carefully evaluated using several indicators of research performance." Chancellor of Oxford University, Chris Patten, said "it looks like a pretty good stab at a fair comparison." Professor Simon Margison of University of Melbourne commented that one of the strengths of "the academically rigorous and globally inclusive Jiao Tong approach" is "constantly tuning its rankings and invites open collaboration in that".

ARWU and its content have been widely cited and employed as a starting point for identifying national strengths and weaknesses as well as facilitating reform and setting new initiatives. Bill Destler, the President of the Rochester Institute of Technology, drew reference to ARWU to analyze the comparative advantages that the Western Europe and US have in terms of intellectual talent and creativity in his publication in the journal Nature. Martin Enserink referred to ARWU and argued in his paper published in Science that "France's poor showing in the Shanghai ranking ... helped trigger a national debate about higher education that resulted in a new law... giving universities more freedom.

In order to better meet the diversified needs for the global comparison of universities, besides ARWU, CWCU developed the Academic Ranking of World Universities by Broad Subject Fields (ARWU-FIELD) and by Subject Fields (ARWU-SUBJECT) in 2007 and 2009 respectively. In January 2011, CWCU started the Global Research University Profile (GRUP) project, which aims to develop a database on the facts and figures of around 1,200 global research universities. The data gathered from GRUP will be used to design more indicators and will be provided through a web-based platform, in which users will be allowed to compare concerned universities with a variety of indicators of their choice.