Times Higher Education (THE) published the list of the most international universities this Wednesday, but the list is not based on new research. Rather, it’s based on the THE World University Ranking dating back to September 2017, when the UG ranked 83rd on the list.
‘They’re basically re-using old facts to garner attention again’, explains Jules van Rooij, policy adviser at the UG’s Office of the University and an expert on rankings. It’s not an uncommon move: last month, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) published a list with ‘the best university by subject’, based on the data used in the previously published QS World University Ranking.
The top 200 of most international universities is based on four indicators: the number of international students, the number of international staff, publications featuring international co-authors, and international reputation. Switzerland, Asia, and the United Kingdom are home to the largest number of internationally oriented universities, the THE concludes. The universities of Lausanne and Zurich are in first and second place, respectively.
Six Dutch universities have made the list. The university with the highest ranking is the University of Delft (18), followed by the Erasmus University in Rotterdam (42) and the University of Amsterdam (62). The UG is in shared 65th place, together with the University of Stockholm. Leiden is in 68th place, and the University of Utrecht in 85th.
How important are these rankings exactly? It’s difficult to say, Van Rooij says. ‘Especially Asian students take great stock in the world ranking, because they have to study at a top university if they want to qualify for scholarships.’
But whether international students specifically look for the ‘most international university’, he doesn’t know. ‘I read in an article in the NRC last weekend that foreign students are actually disappointed with international universities sometimes. They come here to learn about the Dutch culture, only to find that everyone around them speaks English.’