Times Higher Education (THE) is a UK-based magazine and data provider specializing in higher education. Established in 1971 as a supplement to The Times newspaper, THE has evolved into a standalone publication. Renowned for its university rankings, news, opinions, and insights into the higher education sector, THE is a widely respected source of information for academics, students, and policymakers.

Key Performance Indicators

The THE World University Rankings methodology evaluates universities on five key areas:

  • Teaching (30%): Assesses the quality of the learning environment, including factors such as staff-to-student ratios, institutional income, and academic reputation.
  • Research (30%): Measures the volume, income, and reputation of research conducted at the university.
  • Citations (30%): Examines research influence by capturing the average number of times a university's published work is cited by other scholars.
  • International Outlook (7.5%): Considers the university's ability to attract staff and students from around the world, as well as the extent of international collaboration in research.
  • Industry Income (2.5%): Assesses the university's ability to work with industry partners and generate knowledge transfer, as indicated by research income from the private sector.

THE Ranking Methodology

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings evaluate universities based on five key areas, each with a specific weight in the overall score.

Data Collection Methods

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings collect data from several sources to compile their ranking system. The data is collected through a combination of surveys and publicly available data sources. Key sources include:

  • Teaching Survey: Conducted among academics worldwide to rate the quality of teaching and learning environments.
  • Research Survey: Conducted among academics to rate research output and impact.
  • Citations: Data obtained from the Clarivate Web of Science database, reflecting the average number of citations received per paper published by a university's faculty.
  • Industry Income: Data reflecting the amount of funding a university receives from industry sources for innovation and commercialization of its research.
  • International Outlook: Data reflecting the proportion of international faculty members, international students, and co-authored research papers with international partners.
  • Reputation: Survey data from senior academics, who rate universities based on their academic reputation.
  • The data collected is then analyzed and used to compile the overall THE World University Rankings. The THE World University Rankings are considered one of the most influential university ranking systems globally and are widely used as a reference by students, universities, governments, and other stakeholders.

THE Services and Offerings

Times Higher Education (THE) offers a variety of services and products related to university rankings and higher education:

  • THE World University Rankings: THE's flagship ranking, evaluating universities worldwide based on 13 performance indicators grouped into five categories: Teaching, Research, Citations, International Outlook, and Industry Income.
  • THE World University Rankings by Subject: Focuses on specific subject areas to help prospective students identify leading institutions in their field of interest.
  • THE Regional Rankings: Includes Asia University Rankings, Latin America University Rankings, Europe Teaching Rankings, Emerging Economies University Rankings, and others, catering to students looking for top universities within specific regions.
  • THE Impact Rankings: Assesses universities' contributions to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), measuring their social and economic impact globally.
  • THE Young University Rankings: Highlights top universities that are 50 years old or younger, showcasing institutions that have made significant progress in a relatively short period.
  • THE World Academic Summit and Other Events: Organizes various events and conferences, including the annual World Academic Summit, which brings together leaders in higher education, research, and industry to discuss challenges and opportunities.
  • THE DataPoints: A suite of analytics tools and data products designed to help institutions access Times Higher Education's rich data sources for insights, benchmarking, and strategic decision-making.
  • THE Consultancy Services: Offers consulting services to help universities improve performance in areas such as internationalization, research, reputation management, and overall strategy.

Criticisms of THE Ranking

While the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings are widely recognized and influential, some critics argue there is a lack of transparency in their methodology and data sources. Key concerns include:

  • Data Sources: THE uses a combination of data provided by universities and third-party sources, such as bibliometric data from Elsevier's Scopus database. Not all data is publicly accessible, making it difficult for independent researchers to verify or replicate results.
  • Weighting and Aggregation: THE combines several indicators, each with its own weight, to create an overall score. The exact methods used to calculate and aggregate these indicators are not fully disclosed, complicating understanding of how different factors influence final rankings.
  • Subjective Measures: Includes subjective elements like academic and employer reputation surveys, which may be influenced by biases or perceptions unrelated to the quality of education or research at an institution. The methodology behind these surveys and their integration into the rankings is not completely transparent.
  • Proprietary Methodology: THE's methodology, including data normalization and aggregation techniques, is proprietary, limiting external scrutiny and suggestions for improvement.


It is essential for students, researchers, and policymakers to approach university rankings, including THE World University Rankings, with a critical eye and consider them as just one factor among many when evaluating higher education institutions. Rankings should be complemented with additional sources of information and personal preferences to make well-informed decisions about university choices.