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ETH Zurich remains best university outside the UK and North America

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Students at the ETH Zurich Science City Campus Eth Zürich / Gian Marco Castelberg


Switzerland is the only nation outside Britain and North America to make it into the top 20 of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2020. The federal technology institute ETH Zurich came joint 13th, down two places from last year. 

This content was published on September 11, 2019 - 20:00
THE/swissinfo.ch/ilj/ts

The rankings were announced on Wednesday night in Zurich, as the ETH ZurichExternal link is currently hostingExternal link the Times Higher Education World Academic SummitExternal link.


Last year the ETH Zurich slipped to 11th place but remained the highest-ranked university in continental Europe. 

What’s more, Switzerland has more top 200 universities per capita than any other country. 

+ More on last year’s results hereExternal link 

This year’s listExternal link is touted as the biggest yet, including 1,396 universities from 92 countries, up from 1,258 universities/86 countries last year. 

It is based on 13 performance metricsExternal link, grouped into five areas (teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income/knowledge transfer). Two of these indicators are based on the THE Academic Reputation Survey directed at scholars.

Top dogs 

Oxford is top overall for the fourth year running; the California Institute of Technology rises three places to 2nd; Cambridge drops one place to 3rd; Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) round out the top five. 

Among the other Swiss universities, the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) fell three places to joint 38th and the University of Zurich remained in 90th. The University of Basel improved from 103rd to joint 94th and the University of Bern slipped from joint 110th to joint 113th, while the University of Geneva went from joint 135th to joint 144th. The University of Lausanne just managed to stay in the top 200, dropping from joint 176th to joint 198th. 

The ETH Zurich is regularly placed highly in international rankings – in June it came sixth in the QS rankingsExternal link, which, along with the TES and Shanghai rankings is considered one of the most cited indicators of university quality. 

However, the past year has not been easy for the institution, which moved to dismissExternal link a professor accused of bullying and faced allegations – of which it has been cleared by two external investigationsExternal link – concerning governance funding and gender bias.

World Academic Summit

The summit brings together in Zurich 400 leaders from universities and industry to discuss higher education issues. The topic of the meeting, which takes place from September 10-12, is how talent thrives. This includes exploring lifelong learning, industry partnerships, meeting the skills gap and talent recruitment and retention.

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