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Federal institutes improve global rankings

A good result for ETH Zurich ETH Zürich

Seven Swiss universities have been ranked in the world’s top 200, as assessed by the British Times Higher Education (THE) rankings. Switzerland’s top university, the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, climbed this year from position 15 to 12.

This content was published on October 3, 2012 - 22:00
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The only other Swiss university in the top 100 was the Federal Institute of Technology  in Lausanne, which improved from 46th to 40th place, making it the second-best performing European university, outside of  Britain. However, the remaining five Swiss universities in the top 200 saw their rankings slide.

The league table of the world’s top universities is based on 13 separate performance indicators covering all of the core missions of a world class university — teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

“Switzerland shows an exceptionally strong performance, despite its size,” Phil Baty, editor of THE-Rankings told the Swiss News Agency.

A spokesman for ETH Zurich told swissinfo.ch the university was pleased with the result, its best to date. “To hold the position of best university outside the Anglo-American world increases the visibility of ETH Zurich and Switzerland as a top location for research and study,” Roman Klingler said.

The downward trend among the other ranked Swiss institutions is clear. Zurich University dropped to position 89 from 61, while Lausanne University moved down from position 116 to 130. Geneva University slipped three places to 133.

Basel University and Bern University experienced sharper drops, finishing up in positions 142 and 151 respectively.

World class

As usual, the United States and Britain have hogged the top positions. The California Institute of Technology leads the rankings, again, with former number one Harvard University slipping to position four. Stanford and Oxford share second place this year.

Despite the dominant strength of US universities – seven out of the top ten and 76 of the top 200 – a challenge is emerging from Asian universities, particularly in China.  Some 50 US universities lost ground since last year.

Peking University saw its ranking improve from place 49 to 46, Tsinghua University climbed from 71st to 52nd place.

In Europe, the Netherlands made a surprising impact this year, with 12 of its institutions appearing in the top 200, making it the third highest achieving country after the US and Britain.

The scoring system used by the Times Higher Education Rankings puts considerable emphasis on the level of publication, effectively giving extra weight to the English language.

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