The list of the world’s best universities has been dominated by Harvard University (US) for years, followed by Stanford (also from the US), and Cambridge (UK). Of the Dutch universities, Utrecht is the only one ahead of Groningen, in 47th place. Utrecht is in the top fifty for the first time; in 2016, they were in 65th place.
The RUG calls the rise a ‘great leap forward’, but admits it was expected. University president Sibrand Poppema: ‘We expected to rise in the rankings after Ben Feringa won the fantastic Nobel Prize for Chemistry in October last year. After all, the Shanghai ranking places great importance on Nobel Prizes and scientific publications.’
The Shanghai ranking is one of the three most important university rankings, together with the Times Higher Education (THE) and the QS ranking. The Shanghai ranking is considered the most reliable one.
The THE and QS are commercial businesses, earning their money by ‘helping’ universities with their data analyses. Shanghai, however, collects its own data. In addition to the Nobel Prize, they also place importance on citations and publications in top journals such as Nature and Science.
After it was announced that Feringa had won the Nobel Prize, ranking expert Jules van Rooij at the RUG predicted Groningen would rise to 56th place. It is to be expected that Groningen will also rise greatly in the THE and QS rankings.
These two rankings mainly take reputation into account. There is a good chance that the publicity concerning Feringa will have given the RUG a quantifiable boost. Especially aspiring students from abroad use the rankings to determine the quality of a university, according to the RUG.