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ETH Zurich among world’s top universities

Architecture students listen to a roundtable discussion at high-ranking ETH Zurich Keystone

The Swiss federal technology institute ETH Zurich continues to be among the top-ranking universities in the 2016 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings. In 19th place, it dropped four places compared to the previous year.

ETH Zurich was the highest ranked university in continental Europe, trailing three British universities: Oxford, Cambridge and the University College London. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) was ranked 48th, in the tables, which were published on Wednesday.

At the top of the list, containing a total of 102 universities worldwide, was Harvard University in the United States. Twelve other American universities made it into the top 20, while the United Kingdom was represented by four. The number of top universities based in Asia increased from 10 in 2015 to 18 in 2016. This was marked out as a trend by the THS.

In a media release, the THS noted that Switzerland was still investing heavily in education and that its universities were very international. This is what will help Swiss institutions maintain their position among the best in the world, it added.


The rankings were based on surveys of more than 10,000 senior academics in 133 countries. Unlike the annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Reputation Rankings are based purely on the personal opinions of the academics invited to participate.

The survey – administered in 15 languages – was carried out between January and March 2016. It targeted “only experienced, published scholars, who offer their views on excellence in research and teaching within their disciplines and at institutions with which they are familiar”, according to a description of the methodology.

Scholars were asked to name “no more than 15 universities that they believe are the best in each category (research and teaching) based on their own experience”.

Numerous organisations carry out university rankings. On the website University Rankings.chExternal link, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation lists the results of four of them: Shanghai Jiao Tong, QS World University Rankings, CWTS Leiden, and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (which are separate from the Reputation rankings).

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR