The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018 are now out, so I had a glance at it. They are claiming theirs is the best, because it covers 1000 research-intensive seats of higher learning, and because it was audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. What do accountants know about universities? I suppose they checked the figures on the assessments already determined, but the essence of a university is what it discovers. Teaching is a necessity for self-preservation, grant income likewise, citations are delayed measure of discovery, and all the rest is noise. At least this ranking does not spend too much time on the student experience, whatever that is.
Anyway, the top 25 universities are:
Oxford, Cambridge, CalTech and Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Imperial College, Chicago, Zurich, Pennsylvania, Yale, John Hopkins, Columbia, UCLA, UCL, Duke, California Berkley, Cornell, Northwestern, Michigan, Singapore and Toronto, Carnegie Mellon, LSE and Washington.
The scores is: UK 5, USA 18, Europe, Canada and Singapore 1 each. It is good to see Britain leading the pack, but the wider picture is the rise of Chinese universities (27th and 30th places), and it will be interesting to see how soon they enter the top 25. Will they lack curiosity and creativity, or will they just march through the institutions, casting aside all before them? IQ results suggest the latter, but they might be conformist, constrained and bound by saucy doubts and fears. We shall see.
As for the top 25 in Psychology, it is good to see my institution gets a good ranking at second place to Stanford. I cannot claim to have contributed to it, because I doubt these measures include bloggers, although blogging is the new publishing, and has a greater reach than lecturing.
The pecking order in Psychology is Stanford, UCL, Princeton, Harvard, Duke, and then 15 of the top 25 are in the US, the other mentions being British Columbia, Toronto, Amsterdam, Karolinska, and Edinburgh.
So, the most highly ranked psychology comes from the United States and Canada, with four from the old continent: 2 British, one Dutch, one Swedish. Basically, Britain and overseas Britain. Of course, that might give just a bit too much credence to the witterings of Anglo-Saxon minds, but why not? The list of influential achievements supports it. The Dutch and Swedish are close in history and ancient ancestry, and so cousins in the European sense of that concept, and can be welcomed without resentment, and just a bit of condescension.
Europe was the first mover with its ancient universities, but has lost its way. Perhaps unreformed religion got in the way. Neither Africa nor South America have reached world status. To find the up and rising universities one can look at the top 100, but that mostly takes in more of the US, Europe and former British colonies. Hong Kong and South Korea show up above 100 but the general point is already made. Setting aside a place for independent thinking is an Anglo-Saxon/European pastime. The field is open for other cultures to develop these seats of learning and pull in the best minds from all over the world. Saudi Arabia has tried that, with oil money, but the general Arab representation is very weak. Perhaps the institutions should be classified by the nominal religions of the host countries. Comparisons are odious, but very interesting.