The Times Higher Education World University Ranking is based on a new methodology since 2011, using 13 separate performance indicators capturing different university activities. These 13 indicators are brought together into five headline categories, which are:
• Teaching — the learning environment (worth 30% of the overall ranking score)
• Research — volume, income and reputation (30%)
• Citations — research influence (32.5%)
• Industry income — innovation (2.5%)
• International mix — staff and students (5%)
The teaching and research scores are partly based on academic reputation surveys (15% and 19.5% respectively). Please find attached the related VU news mention regarding the Times Higher Education WUR, and the related websites of THE World university ranking.
Furthermore, Times Higher Education (THE) has released the Impact ranking 2020. The Impact ranking aims at evaluating the contribution of 766 participating institutions worldwide with regards to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG's). The contribution of these universities consists of research, outreach and stewardship related to the 17 SDG’s. The Impact ranking has been published for the third year in a row, and for two years now the ranking is mainly based on the structure of and data regarding the 17 SDG’s.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ranks number 39 worldwide regarding the 17 SDGs, and additionally ranks second in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2020 when it comes to taking action against climate change – SDG 13. The high score on 'Climate Action' is due to the university's attention to the theme of Science for Sustainability. With this theme, VU Amsterdam creates conditions under which people, the environment and the economy come into balance without exhausting the earth. This is done by linking fundamental scientific knowledge with knowledge about implementing sustainable changes in society. Science for Sustainability is the theme in which several faculties and parts of VU Amsterdam are involved. The focus is on the entire chain of fundamental and applied research, and its applications in practice. With the knowledge that results from this, VU Amsterdam enables its students to contribute to a better world and prepares students for a sustainable career.
The evaluation is performed by calculating a score based on four SDG’s: three SDG’s with the highest score per university (e.g. specific), and the score related to SDG 17 (e.g. overarching). For every SDG a set of question has been answered by the participating universities: 8 to 10 questions per SDG regarding student data, staff data, financial data, and university policy related to the SDG (e.g. applicable policy/working groups/activities, the exchange of open source policy documents, and a keyword match by Times Higher Education).
The focus on university policy is what makes this ranking specifically different from other more traditional ranking, which up until now predominantly have focused on research output, excellence and reputation. This gives universities the opportunity to highlight their societal connection, impact and activities for example related to SDG’s such as quality education, gender equality and climate action.
According to Times Higher Education, these are the first international rankings to use such indicators of sustainability and impact. While universities in more wealthy countries occupy the highest ranks - as might be expected, the indicators reflect more diversity than more traditional indicators such as global reputation and research quality. In other words, activities that promote sustainability both locally and internationally are more in reach of younger institutions with less funding.
Up until 2020 Times Higher Education has published the European Teaching ranking as well. The results of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: Europe’s 24th best university in the European Teaching Ranking of Times Higher Education (THE European teaching ranking 2019). Please find attached the related VU news mention regarding the European Teaching Ranking and the related website of Times Higher Education.