During the last few years, various organizations worldwide have announced university rankings according to different criteria. Depending on which organization compiled the list, SNU was evaluated as world class or outside the top 100. The endeavors to rank universities raise greater questions on whether higher numbers truly represent a university's higher status.
Ups and Downs of SNU's RankingARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities) by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, since 2003
|SNU ranked as||101-150||152-200||150-200||150-200||150-200||101-150||150-200||150-200|
QS World University Rankings SNU ranked 50 in 2010
THE World University Rankings SNU ranked 109 in 2010
THE World University Reputation Rankings SNU ranked 50 in 2010-2011Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities
|SNU ranked as||67||85||84||107|
|SNU ranked as||7||5||16||36|
ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities )
The First University Rankings Starts Quietly at a Small Chinese University
The organization that first started ranking universities was the Higher Education Research Center, a small institution at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. This center first started making international university rankings, after domestic list of rankings had appeared in US News &World Report and The Times and gained huge popularity. In 2003 the center uploaded a list titled "Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)" on which there were 500 universities.
Professor Nian Kai Liu who was in charge of the list of the rankings, said that only public data were used in the research and any subjective opinions were excluded. Nian explained the motive of the university rankings as "not to advertise Chinese universities, but to motivate them to work harder." The list was generally welcomed as an effort to make an objective evaluation of universities. However, giving higher scores to universities with Nobel Prize winners or Fields Prize winners did not earn much approval. Due to such ranking methods, many old outdated European universities with a long history were ranked within the top 100 while newly emerging Asian universities were ranked well outside. According to this ranking system, SNU was ranked in the range of 151-200 from 2003 to 2005, and in the 101-150 range from 2005.
THE-QS World University Rankings
UK's World University Rankings that Evoked Much Controversy in Korea
In 2004, THE cooperated with English surveying company QS to announce the 'THE-QS World University Rankings', the second list of world university rankings. Owing to major broadcasting companies reporting the list, the rankings created quite a stir. This ranking injured SNU's prestige from being 'Korea's future' to 'a university not even in the top 100' as SNU was ranked 118th on the list. It later emerged that THE and QS did not even ask SNU for data while collecting theirs was revealed. By then however, many young Koreans had already left to study abroad, causing an overseas study boom. Subsequently the THE-QS rankings revised their list and SNU was afterwards ranked as 63rd (2006), 51st (2007) and 47th (2009).
Unlike the ARWU which evaluated the rankings from objective statistics, THE-QS rankings followed a rating system according to which email responses of each university's renowned scholars accounted for 40% of the score which created a subjective result. It is clearly a subjective ranking, by which each university's reputation is evaluated.
The THE-QS rankings were the first to evaluate each university's 'globalization quotient' separately. This system measures the extent to which a university is globalized by giving higher scores to universities with more foreign faculty or students. Using this globalization quotient, Newsweek reported the 'World's 100 Most Globalized Universities', making the THE-QS Rankings even more famous. As the THE-QS rankings gained a reputation, many Korean universities started to compete in order to be ranked higher.
Many Organizations Start Ranking World Universities
As the THE-QS rankings were criticized for its subjective criteria, many institutions and research centers started to compile their own lists of world university rankings.
Taiwan's university rating center, the 'Higher Education Evaluation &Accreditation Council of Taiwan' has been evaluating the number of papers published by each university and announcing the 'Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities' since 2007. It analyzes SCI papers and applies specified criteria in order to differentiate itself from other ranking systems. According to this list, SNU ranks between 5th and 7th for papers published in the fields of engineering and technology, and the College of Natural Sciences ranks in the 20s. Although the ‘Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities' did not draw much global attention, every year the center updates their list after a thorough evaluation.
In 2007, MINES ParisTech (Ecole des Mines de Paris) developed a new rating system that was distinguished from other systems which primarily relied on analyzing SCI papers. Their idea was to evaluate not only academic competence but also how many leading figures in industry graduated from a university. With ARWU ranking in mind, MINES ParisTech compiled a list titled 'International Professional Ranking of Higher Education Institutions'. This system tracked down from which universities CEOs on Fortune's list of the world's top 500 corporations graduated and gave points to those universities. The first list published in 2007 ranked SNU as 32nd, whereas the following year it was ranked 16th and as more data were collected, SNU ranked 5th in 2009, outstripping MIT which was 13th on the list.
Holland's University of Groningen also conducted an autonomous survey to supplement the shortcomings of existing lists of world university rankings. In 2008, they released ‘The University of Groningen Ranking of Research Universities' and SNU was narrowly included, ranked as 100th.
QS World University Rankings
Confusion in University Rankings After THE and QS Separate
In 2010, THE and QS separated and two lists with the same name were published as each organization continued to rank universities. The QS World University Ranking adhered to the same evaluation method as employed in 2009 and SNU's ranking remained in the 50s. QS makes a separate list targeted towards Asian universities which are sensitive to their rankings, and publishes it in cooperation with Korea's Chosun Ilbo as the 'Chosun Ilbo Asian University Ranking'.
Meanwhile, THE cooperated with Thomson Reuters and began publishing a list of university rankings in 2010 based on the number of cited papers attributable to each university. They focused on how many times a paper was cited per professor and as a result, small technical institutions such as Caltech (2nd), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (15th), Georgia Tech (27th) and Postech (29th) dominated the highest rankings. In contrast, large universities such as SNU (109th) and Humboldt University (178th) were generally ranked low. As the credibility of the evaluation index of the new list came into question, THE separately published the 'World University Rankings by Reputation' in March, 2011. This list was based on the 'reputation factor' which was previously a minor element of the index. The rankings by reputation placed SNU as 50th and excluded Postech.
Upon hearing about SNU's ranking, OH Yeon-Cheon, president of SNU said "There is no need to be swayed by the rankings", and emphasized that SNU should not be too obsessed with the rankings and instead try harder to find ways to be closer to Korean society.
Written by JANG Eunju, SNU English Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by Eli Park Sorensen, SNU Professor of Liberal Studies
Proofread by Brett Johnson, SNU English Editor