Top European universities

ETH Zurich is the top ranked university in continental EuropeThe final instalment of the 2013 world university rankings season saw mixed fortunes for European universities, contrasting with talk of a ‘resurgence for continental European universities’ only a month ago, as NIC MITCHELL reports.

THE Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE WUR) is one of the big three beasts dominating the world of higher education rankings and their verdict on the pecking order of international universities is keenly watched worldwide.

No-where more so than in the Rectors and Vice-Chancellors offices around Europe, where concerns about the impact of budget cuts, or at least constraints, contrast with the huge investment being made in education and research by many countries in Asia.

And their worst fears were realised when Phil Baty, Times Higher Rankings Editor, opened his analysis of the 2013-14 results (1) by saying: “Power among the world’s leading universities has shifted further eastwards, with mainland Europe suffering the worst losses.”

QS more upbeat

This contrasted with a much more upbeat assessment from the last of big league tables, the QS World University Rankings, (2) which put two Swiss universities in its top 20, following a leap of ten places by École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne (EPFL). ETH Zürich-Swiss Federal Institute of Technology became the highest-placed university outside the English-speaking world, by moving up to 12th spot.

Phil Baty, Editor of the Times Higher Education World University RankingsThe QS Rankings also showed two more universities from the Netherlands in the top 100, and all six improving their positions this year. And while Germany only had Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg in the top 50, eight of its 13 top 200 universities went up this year. France had two universities in the top 50, and 19 in the top 400. Italy had no institutions in the top QS 100, but every one of its representatives in the top 400 moved up this year, some by as much as 50 places. In Scandinavia, Norway’s University of Oslo climbed into the top 100 universities, while Denmark’s University of Copenhagen enters the QS top 50.

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