The British ranking puts ten Dutch universities among the best two hundred in the world. The creators base their measurement of each university’s success on academic performance, reputation, the number of students per lecturer and a range of other factors. As it did last year, Wageningen University & Research leads the way among the Dutch contingent, rising from 62 to 53. The University of Amsterdam is next, ranked 65.
TU/e drops from the top 200 this year, as do the universities of Tilburg and Twente. The Eindhoven university has been dropping places in the Times ranking for some years now and occupied 187th place last year. TU/e achieved its highest ranking in 2014: 104th place. Since then, it ranked lower each year, with a recovery in 2018, when the Eindhoven university climbed from 177th to 141st place.
TU/e scores extremely well in the criterium collaboration with industry and valorization: a score of 99.9, which is on a par with the optimal score of Wageningen (100) and even slightly supersedes that of TU Delft (97.7). However, this indicator only counts for 2.5 percent of the final score of the Times ranking. TU/e clearly performs much more poorly when it comes to the number of citations globally (56.1), an indicator that counts for thirty percent of the final score, as do the teaching and research indicators. Many Dutch universities achieved significantly higher scores for these indicators.
On a global scale, the Netherlands is still punching well above its weight. Only the United States, Britain, Germany and Australia have more universities in the Top 200. China has moved alongside the Netherlands in the country rankings, with ten institutions in the Top 200.
For the sixth consecutive year, Britain’s Oxford University occupies the coveted number one spot. But US universities continue to dominate the rankings overall, accounting for no fewer than eight of the Top 10 places and 57 of the Top 200.
The Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities was also announced recently. In this ranking, nine Dutch universities made the Top 200. Utrecht University scored the highest of all Dutch institutions, coming in at number 50. Compared to last year, TU/e’s position in this ranking has improved: the university now occupies a place among the group of universities placed between 301st and 400th position, as opposed to last year, when it was part of the group between positions 401 and 500.
Such rankings “are far from sacred”, says Pieter Duisenberg, president of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands VSNU, “but they do give an indication of where we stand internationally”. In his view, the Dutch decline underscores why the government needs to allocate an additional 1.1 billion euros per year to university education. The Netherlands may be in the top flight now, Duisenberg warns “but for how long?”
At the same time, the VSNU president is keen to put the rankings into perspective. “They place rather a lot of emphasis on indicators such as the number of publications and citation impact”, he believes. Meanwhile universities themselves are looking at alternative ways to ‘recognise and reward’ instead of focusing solely on scientific achievements. They want to see more attention devoted to aspects such as education, patient care and leadership.