The QS World University Rankings by Faculty provide a more accurate comparison with last year’s results than our overall QS World University Rankings does.
They are not affected by the methodological change that has caused extra volatility in the main rankings – this being the change in how citations are measured. Instead, the high level of stability in the Faculty Rankings illuminates the impact of the switch to normalising citations by faculty area. Few of the leading universities in any of the five faculty areas have moved by more than five places.
The only change in top position is in the Arts and Humanities, where Harvard loses first place to Oxford and is joined by Cambridge in joint second place. The other four areas have the same leaders, and the Social Sciences and Management have the same top six.
The Rankings by Faculty have been overtaken to some extent by the more detailed rankings of 36 subjects published by QS in April. But they give universities points of long-term comparison because they have been published in broadly the same form since the QS Rankings first appeared in 2004.
During that period, Harvard has been the dominant force, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) the one to beat in Engineering and Technology, and – recently – also in the Natural Sciences. This year is no exception, with the two universities from Cambridge, Massachusetts, topping two tables each. Harvard leads both Life Sciences and Medicine and Social Sciences and Management, while MIT leads in Natural Sciences and Engineering and Technology.
Although Oxford is the only other university to head any of the tables, Cambridge is the most consistent threat to the two leading Americans. It is in the top three in four areas and fourth in the other – the Social Sciences and Management.
The only other universities to interrupt the Cambridge hegemony are Stanford, taking second place in Engineering and Technology, and the London School of Economics, which was second in Social Sciences and Management. However, there are plenty of high placings in particular fields to celebrate for universities that cannot match the likes of Harvard overall.
New York University is in the top ten for the Arts and Humanities, for example, despite slipping out of the top 50 in this year’s main ranking. Johns Hopkins is in the top five for Life Sciences and medicine, while not in the top 15 overall, and Delft University of Technology is in the top 20 for Engineering and Technology, while coming 64th overall.
Some specialist institutions are included in the faculty rankings despite having too narrow a subject range to appear in the main exercise. The University of California, San Francisco, is 7th for Life Sciences and Medicine, where Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute is 9th. The London Business School is 12th for Social Sciences and Management.
by John O’Leary