The first global university rankings of 2014 will be published next week, when QS unveils the second edition of its top 50 universities under 50 years old.
There is certain to be considerable movement in the upper reaches of the table because three of last year’s top 20 – Warwick, Lancaster and Macquarie – were already 49 years old and will no longer be eligible for the ranking. The universities concerned and others that will drop out of the ranking over the next few years were established in the 1960s, as governments -particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom – set about expanding access to higher education.
The QS Top 50 Under 50 was created to draw attention to the achievements of institutions that consider themselves at a disadvantage when competing with longer-established universities in the normal rankings. The well-entrenched reputations and extensive facilities enjoyed by universities dating back a century or more help them to dominate the QS World University Rankings and others like them. Only three universities under 50 years old appeared in the QS top 100 in 2013.
Younger universities have welcomed an additional opportunity to demonstrate their quality. Some were established only in the 1990s.
The Top 50 Under 50 will kick off a busy rankings season, with the QS World University Rankings by Subject following next month. There may be a further increase on the 30 subjects ranked last year, which ranged from the humanities to the sciences and included vocational subjects such as education.
Harvard dominated the 2013subject rankings, although the Massachusetts Institute of Technology proved its strength in engineering and technological subjects. The addition of agriculture brought in a variety of new institutions, including the University of California, at Davis, which topped the ranking, as well as featuring among the top ten universitiesunder 50 years old.
Polling has already begun among academics and employers for the tenth anniversary edition of the QS World University Rankings, which will be published in the autumn.Last year’s record totals of 62,000 academics and 28,000 employers responding to the two surveys may well be exceeded this year.
Before then, regional rankings will be published for Asia and Latin America, and the inaugural BRICS ranking will be updated.