World University Rankings – Most Popular Ranking Publishers

Find Out How to Identify the Most Suitable World University Ranking Publisher for Narrowing Down Your University Choices

Below you will find a list with an overview of the 13 most popular ranking publishers for world university rankings, which will let you easily form a better idea of how they are arranged. The order of the listed publishers shown in this overview is not an indication of whether they are better or worse, but instead, the intention is to present them in a way that lets an interested user review the information provided about the most popular publishers featured in university rankings.

Young student with magnifying glass looking at the most popular organizations that provides university rankings

You will be able to consult the positions that universities have earned in the rankings provided by these13 popular ranking publishers as well as more than 110 alternative rankings in one place at, This link could ideally be saved for later useful guidance. However, what is important now that you are here is that you gain a better understanding of the factors that university rankings include in their calculations and the weight they give to each of those factors. You can then feel prepared to choose the university rankings that are most relevant for your decision-making process, to ensure that you choose the right university for your needs.

In each numbered point of the list, you will find the name of the ranking publisher; how long it has been publishing; how often its ranking listings are updated; how many institutions the publication takes into account, and what kind of information it provides(as well as what kind of information it doesn’t provide!).

You can look over the variety of factors and indicators used by all the 13 prominent ranking publishers, the importance that is given to the indicators used in the comparisons, and the diverse range of data sources (objective and subjective) used in the calculation of these world university rankings.

The methodology of each ranking publication is very specific – sometimes their source of information is the same databases, but their results produce different conclusions because of the importance they give to each combination of factors. So, for this reason, we have included first a brief set of guidelines on the methodology used for each ranking publisher, and also a link to the page where the ranking publisher itself provides the full explanation for the methodology that it has followed, and how it has evolved over time.

Overview of the 13 Most Popular Publishers and Their Global University Rankings

1. QS – Quacquarelli Symonds

 the QS World University Rankings logo

This British organisation has been publishing world university rankings since 2004. Their rankings primarily identify the performance of universities in specific areas such as Programme Strength, Facilities, Graduate Employability, Social Responsibility, Inclusiveness, etc. They offer annual publications.

To get a rough idea of the number of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) this publisher takes into account in its calculation process, in 2021 5,500 universities were evaluated, of which 1003 made it onto their ranking listings. Featuring 1,300 universities from around the world as of 2022.

As they put in on their webpage QS Rankings “comprises the global overall and subject rankings (which name the world’s top universities for the study of 51 different subjects and five composite faculty areas), alongside independent regional tables (such as Asia, Latin America, Emerging Europe, Central Asia, and the Arab Region).”

n the following table, you can find a summary of relevant aspects of their methodology, as well as shortcuts to their own information sources.


Worldwide sources of data on Higher Education used  by country:
Factor or criteria / Indicators and its weight.
Academic reputation 40% 
*H Index => productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist or scholar.
*Staff with PhDs. or equivalent degrees.(Source: QS academic reputation survey )
Employer reputation 10%
*Employers Presence on Campus
*Graduate Employment Rate
*Alumni Outcomes(Source: QS  employer reputation survey)
Citations per Faculty 20%(source: All citations data is sourced using Elsevier’s Scopus database)
Faculty /Student ratio 20%
*Number of staff in relation to the number of students
*Student exchange inbound (internationalisation)
International 5% each= 10%
*The proportion of faculty members that are international.
*The proportion of students that are international
WebImpact  5% ( in case used as a substitute)
*Webometrics, effectiveness of institutions projection online

2. THE – Times Higher Education

Times Higher Education world university rankings logo

THE has provided annual worldwide ranking listings since 2004; its publications are based mainly on university performance data and have been consulted by students and their families, academics, university leaders, governments, and figures in the industry. In 2009 it ended their collaborative partnership with QS and signed an agreement to use Reuters data. As of 2011, THE has published as a new and independent university ranking publisher.

In 2022 THE ranked 1,600 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) from 99 countries. According to this publisher, their method involves applying 13 calibrated performance indicators to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons in the areas of Teaching, Research, Knowledge Transfer, and International Outlook. The HEIs provide their institutional data signed for ranking data purposes. All data is independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

See below a summary of the relevant aspects of THE’s methodology, and shortcuts to their own information sources.


Citations: Bibliometric data supplier Elsevier
Factor or criteria / Indicators and their weight
The performance indicators are grouped into five areas:
Teaching  30%
(Learning environment) 
*Reputation survey: 15%
*Staff to student ratio: 4.5%
*Doctorate to bachelor’s ratio: 2.5%
*Doctorates-awarded-to academic Staff ratio: 6%
*Institutional income: 2,25%
Research 30% (volume, income, and reputation)
*Reputation survey: 18%
*Research income: 6%
Research productivity: 6%

Citations30%  (research influence- the average number of times a university’s published work is cited by scholars globally)
International outlook 7,5%( Staff, students, and research)
*Proportion of international students:2,5%
*Proportions of International Staff:2,5%
*International collaboration: 2,5%
Industry Income 2.5%  (Knowledge transfer-ability to help industry with innovations, inventions, and consultancy)
Thomson Reuters university rankings logo

3. Thomson Reuters Corporation

Since 2015, this publisher has produced the annual Ranking of the World’s Most Innovative Universities, which is focused on educational institutions that contribute most to the advancement of science, the invention of new technologies, and the boosting and development of new markets and industries.

Reuters News relies on data compiled by Clarivate Analytics and several of its research platforms: InCites, Web of Science, Derwent Innovations Index, Derwent World Patents Index, and Patents Citation Index. You can see more details about their methodology following the link provided in the table below.

Factor or criteria / Indicators and its weight
Patent Volume
(source: Source: Derwent World Patents Index, Derwent Innovations Index)
Patent Success
(Source: Derwent World Patents Index, Derwent Innovations Index)
Global Patent
(Source: Derwent World Patents Index, Derwent Innovations Index)
Patents Citations
(Source: Patents Citation Index)
Patent Citations Impact
(Source: Patents Citation Index)
Percent of Patents Cited
(Source: Patents Citation Index )
Patent to Article Citation Impact
(Source: Patents Citation Index, Derwent World Patents Index, Web of Science Core Collection)
Industry Article Citation Impact
(Source: Web of Science Core Collection)
Percent of Industry Collaborative Article
(Source: Web of Science Core Collection)
Total Web of Science Core Collection Papers
(Source: Web of Science Core Collection)

Each indicator was weighted equally with the exception of Patent Citation Impact and Percent of Patents Cited, which received 50 percent weighting each since they are closely related in measuring the same phenomenon.

4. The Cybermetrics Laboratories of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Webometric Ranking of World Universities is undertaken by the Cybermetrics Laboratory, a research group of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) – the largest public research organisation in Spain.

Their publication has been biannual since 2004, and it takes into account more than 30,000 HEIs, with their calculations being based on the global performance and visibility of the universities. Their ranking listings are not only focused on research results, but also on other criteria which may reflect the global quality of scholarly and research institutions worldwide.

The objective of this popular ranking publisher is to motivate both institutions and scholars to have and maintain an Internet presence that accurately reflects their activities. Their ranking measures universities’ scientific activity on the web. In this sense, the cybermetric indicators used by CSIC are useful for evaluating science and technology, and they are the perfect complement to the results obtained with bibliometric methods in scientometric studies. You can read in-depth about the methodology used by following the link provided in the table below.

Webometrics log-normalise the variables before combining according to a ratio 1:1 between activity/presence and visibility/impact groups of indicators
Factor or criteria / Indicators and its weight
Presence 5% (Public knowledge shared)Size (number of pages) of the main web domain of the institution. Include all the subdomains that share the same (central/main) web domain (source Google).
Visibility 50% (Web contents impact) Number of external networks (subnets) linking to the institution’s web pages. (source: Ahrefs Majestic –
Openness  or Transparency 10%
( Top cited researchers)Citations from the top 210 public profiles of each university are collected. The top twenty (20) profiles of the list are EXCLUDED for improving representativeness by removing outliers.(source: Filter Google Scholar Citations -GSC).
Excellence or scholar 35% ( Top cited papers)Number of papers amongst the top 10% most cited in each one of the 26 disciplines of the full database.(Source: Scimago- ).

5. ShanghaiRanking Consultancy

the Academic Ranking of World Universities logo

ShanghaiRanking Consultancy is a fully independent publisher based in China, they are focused on Higher Education Intelligence and are not legally subordinated to any universities or government agencies. This prominent ranking publisher has listed what is known as the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) since 2009 on an annual basis. These ranking listings were first published in June 2003 by the Center for World-Class Universities (CWCU), at the Graduate School of Education (formerly the Institute of Higher Education) of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

ARWU ranks more than 2,500 HEIs every year and publishes only the top 1,000 universities. They take into consideration every university that has any Nobel Laureates, Fields Medalists, Highly Cited Researchers, or papers published in Nature or Science – as well as those universities with a significant number of papers indexed by Science Citation Index-Expanded (SCIE) and Social Science Citation Index (SSCI). Overall this ranking publisher bases their criteria on six objective indicators, as you can see in the table below.

Factor or criteria / Indicators and its weight
Quality of education 10%
*total number of alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals 10%(Source:
Quality of Faculty 40%
*Total number of staff of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals 20% (Source:
The number of Highly Cited Researchers selected by the source: Clarivate Analytics 20%.
Research Output 40%
*Number of papers published in Nature and Science, in case it does not apply, the weight is relocated to another indicator 20%
*Number of papers indexed in Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Science Citation Index 20%(Source:
Per capita performance 10%. Per capita academic performance of an institution means:  The weighted scores of the above indicators divided by the number of full-time equivalent academic staff 10%

6. Round University Ranking LLC Agency

RUR - The Round University Ranking Logo

This agency based in Moscow, Russia, has been publishing RUR Rankings since 2010. RUR – Round University Ranking evaluates the performance of 1,100 of the world’s leading Higher Education Institutions taken from 82 countries ultimately classifying approximately 800 universities.

RUR has created a comprehensive system of world university rankings, which includes 4 main rankings with perspectives for expansions, and also sub-rankings within these 4 key rankings: 1) RUR Overall Ranking which evaluates the institutional performance by 20 indicators; 2) RUR Subject Rankings; 3) RUR Reputation Rankings, within this criteria is considered the university’s brand, and the influence of a particular institution globally; and 4) RUR Research Performance Ranking, which evaluates institution’s performance in terms of their scientific effectiveness, as well as quality, and recognition of researches conducted in certain universities.

Round University Ranking (RUR) bases its calculations on the data provided by Clarivate Analytics (formerly the IP&Science business belonging to Thomson Reuters). For more details about the methodology, you are welcome to consult the table below and visit the provided links to the original information source.

The data used in RUR is classified into three main areas:
Statistical data
Bibliometric data
Reputation data
Factor or criteria / Indicators and its weight
Teaching 40%
*Academic staff per student 8%
*Academic staff per bachelor degrees awarded 8%
*Doctoral degrees awarded x academic staff 8%
*Doctoral degrees awarded x bachelor degrees awarded 8%
*World teaching reputation 8%
Research 40%
*Citations per academic and research staff 8%
*Doctoral degrees per admitted Ph.D. 8%
*Normalised citation impact 8%
*Papers per academic and research staff 8%
*World research reputation 8%
International Diversity  10%
*Share of international academic staff 2%
*Share of international students 2%
*Share of international co-authored papers 2%
*Reputation outside region 2%
*International level 2%
Financial Sustainability 10%
*Institutional income per academic staff 2%
*Institutional income per students 2%
*Papers per research income 2%
*Research income per academic and research staff 2%
*Research income per institutional income 2%

7. Emerging Group

Emerging is an HR consultancy specialising in corporate and Higher Education Institutions’ relations, with a focus on optimising recruitment and integrating young talent. This organisation is based in France, and forms a leading international hub for Graduate Employability, which in 2011 produced and launched the largest and longest-running HE survey of recruiters worldwide carried out in partnership with Trendence, with the NY Times International since 2011, and with Times Higher Education since 2015.

Based on their own scoring system, as of 2011 Emerging has published an annual update of the Top 150 universities, and as of 2019, a Top 250 Global Employability University Ranking. The positional ranking is based solely on international employers’ points of view, and as such on the factors that would be of greatest interest to employers in the hiring process. This popular ranking publisher collects the points of view of around 8,000 recruiters from major companies in 23 countries, asking them what they are looking for in the university domain, and to evaluate, and choose, which institutions in their opinion produce the best-performing graduates.

The data used in RUR is classified into three main areas:
Statistical data
Bibliometric data
Reputation data
Factor or criteria / Indicators and their weight
Employability  tended to be narrowly defined, often only based on the % of employed students 3 months after graduation (sometimes including starting salaries and their evolution).
Employability has become a KPI in many institutions around the world. The definition has evolved and now includes the capability to deliver ready-to-work graduates.

8. CWUR – Center for World University Rankings

CWUR world university ranking logo

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) was founded in 2012 and has been located in the United Arab Emirates since 2016. This popular ranking publisher provides consultancy, policy advice, strategic insights, and research services to governments and universities for the purposes of improving educational and research outcomes. 

Their world university rankings began as a project in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with the aim of ranking the top overall 100 universities in the world. In 2019, the ranking listings were expanded to include the global top 2,000 out of nearly 20,000 universities worldwide. They measure the quality of education and training of university’s students, as well as the prestige of the faculty members and the quality of their research, without relying on surveys and university data submissions.


A quantitative approach to world university rankings
Factor or criteria / Indicators and their weight
Quality of Education 25% number of a university’s alumni who have won major academic distinctions relative to the university’s size.
Alumni Employment 25% number of a university’s alumni who have held top executive positions at the world’s largest companies relative to the university’s size. 
Quality of Faculty 10% number of faculty members who have won major academic distinctions. 
Research Performance 40%
*Research Output, the total number of research papers (10%)
* High-Quality Publication, number of research papers appearing in top-tier journals (10%)
*Influence,  number of research papers appearing in highly-influential journals (10%)
*Citations,  number of highly-cited research papers (10%)

9. U.S. News

U.S. News is an American media company founded in 1933, owned by U.S. News & World Report, L.P. This is a privately held company, This is a privately held company, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and since 1983 has been known primarily for its influential annual national rankings of colleges and graduate schools. In October 2014, U.S. News & World Report published its first ranking listing called: “Best Global Universities“.

The Best Global University Ranking from U.S. News measures the quality of Education in HEIs; the training of students; the prestige of the faculty members; and the quality of their research without relying on surveys and university data submissions. U.S. News uses a separate methodology when it comes to publishing the top global universities in 38 subject areas.

Their overall ranking publication of the World’s Best Universities has listed 1,750 top Higher Education Institutions in 2021, which was narrowed down from the initial set of 1,849 universities spread across the globe, in more than 90 countries – a figure increased from nearly 1,500 universities from 86 nations in 2020. The first data collection for the preparation of the World’s Best Universities Ranking was conducted by Clarivate.

Sources of data: The data and metrics used in the ranking were provided by Clarivate. The bibliometric data was based on the Web of Science.
Factor or criteria / Indicators and its weight
Global Research Performance (13 indicators)
*Global research reputation 12.5%
*Regional research reputation 12.5%
*Publications 10%
*Books 2.5%
*Conferences 2.5%
*Normalised citation impact 10%
*Total citations 7.5%
*Number of publications that are among the 10% most cited10%
*International collaboration-relative to country 5%
*International collaboration 5%
*Number of highly cited papers that are among top 1% most cited in their respective field 5%
*Percentage of total publications that are among the top 1% most highly cited papers 5%

10. SCImago University Ranking

This is a Spain-based research organisation, which consists of members from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), University of Granada, Charles III University of Madrid, University of Alcalá, University of Extremadura, and numerous other education institutions within Spain.

SCImago University Ranking has published their University Global Listings annually since 2009, and these rankings can be consulted by region. They rank Higher Education Institutions according to an indicator that combines three different sets of factors based on Academic Research Performance, Innovation Performance, and Social Impact as measured by their visibility on the internet.

In 2022 they ranked 4,364 universities. For ranking purposes, SCImago has explained in their methodology that “the calculation is generated each year from t the results obtained over five-years a period, ending two years before the ranking publication takes place. For instance, if the year of publication is 2021, the results used are those from the five-year period 2015-2019. The only exception is the case of web indicators, which have only been calculated for the last year”.

Factor or criteria / Indicators and its weight
Research 50%
*Normalsed Impact 13%
*Excellence with Leadership 8%
*Output = total number of documents published in scholarly journals indexed in Scopus 8%
*Not Own Journals 3%
*Excellence, means the number of documents in which the institution is the main contributor   2%
*High-Quality Publications 2%
*International Collaboration, Institution’s output produced in collaboration with foreign institutions.  2%
*Open Access, percentage of documents published in Open Access journals or indexed in the Unpaywall database.   2%
*Scientific Talent Pool 10%
Innovation 30%
*Innovative Knowledge, scientific publication output from an institution cited in patents.   10%
*Patents, number of patent applications. 10%
*Technological Impact, percentage of the scientific publication output cited in patents  10%
Societal 20%
*Altmetrics, 10% documents of the institutions (best documents regarding the normalised impact value) 10%(sources: and
*Inbound Links, number of networks(subnets) from which inbound links to the institution website came.  5%(source:
*Web Size, number of pages associated with the institution’s URL according to Google  5%

11. U-Multirank

U-Multirank was launched in 2014 and is funded by the European Commission, the Bertelsmann Foundation, and Banco Santander. U-Multirank is developed and implemented on the initiative of the European Commission by an independent consortium led by the Centre for Higher Education (CHE) in Germany, the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of Twente, and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) from Leiden University, both in the Netherlands, as well as the Foundation for Knowledge and Development (Fundación CYD) in Spain.

U-Multirank provides a comparison of the top Higher Education Institutions’ performance by-country basis and they can include separate dimensions of university activity (Teaching and Learning, Research, Knowledge Transfer, International Orientation, and Regional Engagement). This particular publisher does not produce a combined, weighted score across these different areas of performance and then uses these scores to produce a numbered league table of the world’s ‘top’ universities, as some other university ranking publishers do. Where U-Multirank shines is in offering an interactive web tool with which users can compare universities’ data by selecting only factors they are personally interested in.

The methodology is closely related to the multidimensional approach that focuses on users’ needs.
U-Multirank indicates how universities perform by showing their position in five performance groups (“very good” through to “weak”) for each of some 30 different indicators.
U-Multirank applies three distinct rank group procedures which are specific to the three kinds of indicators: Quantitative ranking indicators, rating indicators (on contacts to work contact and international orientation of programmes), and student satisfaction indicators.
Factor or criteria / Indicators and its weight
( to review all  30 indicators go to:
RESUME -Catalogue of mapping Indicators:
*Size of the institution (number of students )
*Percentage of Online Programmes
*Legal status ( private Vs. Public)
*Age of institution Teaching and Learning
*Expenditure on teaching (as a % of total expenditure)
*Degree level focus, number of master’s and doctorate degrees awarded as a%  of the total number of degrees awarded.
*Scope, Number of educational fields in which educational programmes were awarded.
*Highest degree awarded, highest degree level at which the institution has awarded degrees.
*Expenditure on research
*Academic research publications international Orientation
*Income from international sources, Revenues from foreign sources as a percentage of total revenues.
*Foreign degree-seeking students, number of degree-seeking students with a foreign qualifying diploma as a percentage of the total number of degree-seeking students.
Regional Engagement
*Income from regional sources, Revenues from regional sources as a percentage of total revenues
*New entrants from the region, number of first-year bachelor students from the region as a percentage of the total number of first-year bachelor students
The U-Multirank indicators are based on a variety of data sources and data collection tools. Self-reported data institutional data questionnaire, Student survey, Bibliometric, and patent data, existing national datasets

12. URAP Research Laboratory

The URAP Research Laboratory has been publishing their national and global rankings since 2010. This research group is currently established at the Informatics Institute of Middle East Technical University, Turkey. URAP Research Lab assesses more than 3,000 Higher Education Institutions for their annual rankings in the category of Top 2,500 HEIs in the World URAP-University Ranking by Academic Performance.

URAP’s ranking system is completely based on objective data about academic performance. For global rankings, URAP employs indicators of Research Performance, including: Number of Articles, Citations, Total Documents, Article Impact Total, Citation Impact Total, and International Collaboration.

(Source of data: Web of Science and InCites which provide lists of HEIs. 3000)

Factor or criteria / Indicators and its weight
URAP is based on 6 academic performance criteria indicators:
Article 21% – Current scientific productivity
Citation 21% – Research impact as the total number of citations received during the evaluated period.
Total document 10% – Scientific productivity as a total document which covers all scholarly output of the institutions.
Article Impact total 18% – Research quality as a measure of scientific productivity corrected by the institution’s normalised with respect to the world.
Citation Total Impact 15% – Research quality
International Collaboration 15% – International acceptance 

13. CWTS – Centre for Science and Technology Studies

The CWTS is an interdisciplinary research institute located in Leiden University, in the Netherlands. This centre studies scientific research and its connections to technology, innovation, and society. Since 2006, CWTS Leiden Ranking has published their world ranking listings on their website, which can be consulted in a variety of ways depending on what type of information you are trying to find.

CWTS Leiden Ranking provides  information exclusively about the research done at 1,300 major universities worldwide, taking on a multidimensional approach that uses four main types of indicators: Scientific Impact, Collaboration, Open Access Publishing, and Gender Diversity. It is up to users to select the indicator they wish to use for making their university comparisons – this means the user can explore the performance of universities from different perspectives from a single publisher.

The CWTS primary source of data is bibliographic in nature, and comes from the Web of Science database produced by Clarivate Analytics. Find out more details about the methodology and indicators that are used, by consulting the links provided in the table below.

Factor or criteria / Indicators and its weight
CWTS Leiden Ranking offers a set of bibliometric indicators that provide statistics at the level of universities on:
Scientific impact 
Open access publishing
Gender diversity

In case you are a potential university student who wants to know more about the usefulness of worldwide university rankings and how to benefit from their effective consultation, click here.

Fabiola López Marín

Content Creator and Editor. Lived in: Spain, the USA, Sweden, and Venezuela. Studied at: University Autónoma of Barcelona (Dr.oec.), University of Barcelona (Master in Digital Journalism). University of the Andes (Bachelor in Public Accounting)
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