And the answer is: 30%.

The UK’s Times Higher Education Supplement has produced a new set of world rankings using a new method that provides ‘the most exact and relevant world rankings yet devised.’ And as Inside Higher Education points out: ‘once again, the power of methodology changes is evident in rankings.’

1 Harvard University United States
2 California Institute of Technology United States
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
4 Stanford University United States
5 Princeton University United States
6 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
6 University of Oxford United Kingdom
8 University of California Berkeley United States
9 Imperial College London United Kingdom
10 Yale University United States

So how does the THES do its rankings?

Within teaching, the following measures are used (reproduced from the THES web site):

Teaching — the learning environment

This broad category employs five separate indicators designed to provide a clear sense of the teaching and learning environment of each institution, from both the student and academic perspective.

The flagship indicator for this category uses the results of a reputational survey on teaching.

Thomson Reuters carried out its Academic Reputation Survey — a worldwide poll of experienced scholars — in spring 2010. It examined the perceived prestige of institutions in both research and teaching. There were 13,388 responses, statistically representative of global higher education’s geographical and subject mix.

The results of the survey with regard to teaching make up 50 per cent of the score in the broad teaching environment category, and 15 per cent of the overall rankings score.

This broad category also measures the number of undergraduates admitted by an institution scaled against the number of academic staff. Essentially a form of staff-to-student ratio, this measure is employed as a proxy for teaching quality — suggesting that where there is a low ratio of students to staff, the former will get the personal attention they require from the institution’s faculty.

As this measure serves as only a crude proxy, and our consultation exposed some concerns about its use, it receives a relatively low weighting: it is worth 15 per cent of the teaching category and just 4.5 per cent of the overall ranking scores.

This contrasts with the 20 per cent weighting the measure was given in our previous rankings.

The teaching category also examines the ratio of PhD to bachelor’s degrees awarded by each institution. We believe that institutions with a high density of research students are more knowledge-intensive, and that the presence of an active postgraduate community is a marker of a research-led teaching environment valued by undergraduates and postgraduates alike.

The PhD-bachelor’s ratio receives a 7.5 per cent weighting in its category and is worth 2.25 per cent of the overall ranking scores.

The teaching category also uses data on the number of PhDs awarded by an institution, scaled against its size as measured by the number of academic staff.

As well as giving a sense of how committed an institution is to nurturing the next generation of academics, a high proportion of postgraduate research students also suggests teaching at the highest level that is attractive to graduates and good at developing them.

Undergraduate students also tend to value working in a rich environment that includes postgraduates. Worth 20 per cent of the teaching environment category, this indicator makes up 6 per cent of the overall score.

The final indicator in this category is a simple measure of institutional income scaled against academic staff numbers.

This figure, adjusted for purchasing-price parity so that all nations compete on a level playing field, indicates the general status of an institution and gives a broad sense of the general infrastructure and facilities available to students and staff.

This measure is worth 7.5 per cent of the category and 2.25 per cent overall.


The main contributors to the rankings are academics themselves. They clearly see research as worth twice as much as teaching. Within teaching, half the score goes on teaching ranked – wait for it – by other academics. Innovation in teaching, qualifications in teaching, or student responses to teaching, are not even counted or considered. What a crock.


  1. It is a beautiful article that gives the readers many insights about the importance of teaching when it comes to deciding the world university rankings. It is clear that teaching plays a huge role when choosing the rankings of different universities across the world. Students choose the universities that own great panel of teachers and therefore, the quality and teaching of teachers plays a huge role to reputation of universities. There are many universities that possess a great squad of teachers who are proficient and experts. So, ensure to choose those universities in order find success in your academic life


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