MIT Places 9th on Times’ Higher Education List of Top Universities

MIT ranked ninth on the Times Higher Education’s list of the Top 200 World Universities which was published on Oct. 9.

Harvard University, Yale University, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, California Institute of Technology, Imperial College London, University College London, and the University of Chicago ranked above MIT.

The Times’ rankings are based on academic peer review, employer review, faculty student ratio, citations per faculty, the percentage of international faculty, and the percentage of international students.

The academic peer review received 6,354 responses this year and holds a 40 percent weight in the rankings. The employer review received 2,339 responses and holds a 10 percent weight. The faculty student ratio holds a 20 percent weight, The number of scholarly citations per faculty accounts for another 20 percent. And the proportion of international faculty and international students each hold a 5 percent weight.

MIT’s moved up a spot in the rankings since 2007, however MIT had previously ranked as high as 2nd in 2005. MIT’s score, however, has increased from 86.9 in 2005 to 96.7 this year. Thus while MIT’s quality of education has not decreased in the last three years, the quality of education at other top universities has increased overall.

MIT scored above a 90 in every category, except international staff in which it only garnered a 33. Claude R. Canizares, the Vice President for Research and Associate Provost, said that number does not accurately represent the diversity of the MIT faculty and staff. Canizares also said that international staff are important to education in that they gives both faculty and staff an opportunity to have meaningful international experiences.

Canizares said that MIT is strengthening global collaborations by the day. He also expressed concerns that a ranking system that compares universities on a linear scale does not define the best place for a student, as that depends on the area of interest of that student.

Canizares said that the low international staff score is not due to funding restrictions. MIT does not accept research funding that restricts who can perform the research, excluding the Lincoln Lab and government fellowships. He said that we “pride ourselves on being an open campus.”

Lydia Snover, the Director of Institutional Research, said that MIT’s international staff score is low due to differences in the definition of international staff across campuses. Each campus was asked to submit information about their international staff, which was defined as non-resident aliens who are faculty at the university.

But MIT also hires faculty under the condition that if they are not already permanent residents, they will become permanent residents. Therefore, a majority of MIT faculty are U.S. citizens.

However, many peer universities submitted numbers including permanent residents, resulting in a non-parallel comparison. She also mentioned that Caltech’s international score of 100 is based on two different data sets, which they are looking to fix.

Yesterday morning, Snover attended a seminar of the World University Rankings Seminar Series at Boston University that explained what the rankings are for and sought feedback regarding how the rankings are calculated. The definition of international staff score was brought up as an issue to be addressed for the 2009 Times’ World University rankings.

The Times is a London-based magazine that reports solely on issues of higher education. Their World University Rankings have been reported annually since 2004. MIT has ranked third, second, fourth, and tenth from 2004 to 2007 respectively. Harvard has ranked first every year.