CR 2019
As confirmed by analyses of their methodologies, innovations and changes that have occurred over the past fifteen years, the most prestigious and also the most influential world university rankings differ a lot, they have their strengths and weaknesses, and they take different characteristics of institutions from different sources into account. This is why it is less appropriate to compare positions of individual institutions and the differences between them only on the basis of just one of rankings, because each ranking reflects only a partial piece of information about them, and works only with limited data sources. A substantially more comprehensive view can be obtained by linking different pieces of information from the most important world university rankings, and by creating a sort of a meta-ranking that we have named Cross Ranking (CR).

Our Cross Ranking of the top world higher education institutions is based on their results in the three most prestigious and influential world university rankings: the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), the QS World University Rankings (QS) and the THE World University Rankings (THE). The three rankings have been chosen because they are widely respected by the world academic community and have the longest tradition, because they are transparent, publish their methodologies and communicate with their users, and also because they are continually trying to improve.

1. The ARWU ranking, first published in 2003, is the oldest world university ranking. Since then, the ARWU has been annually comparing and evaluating the top 500 higher education institutions in the world. The ARWU is published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University at the request of the Chinese government, its original purpose having been to show the position of Chinese universities as compared to the best world universities. In contrast to other well-known rankings, it only focuses on research outcomes, which is often criticised for reducing its basis of the overall evaluation as compared with the two other rankings. Based predominantly on English-written scientific articles published in the Web of Science database, it favours universities of the English-speaking countries. The six dimensions of evaluation, indicators and weights have remained almost without change, which makes its results comparatively stable. On the other hand, the ARWU has not been subjected to substantive innovations, as its two main competing rankings have been, and therefore it does not respond to changing expectations of the public. Historically, even the number of higher education institutions evaluated and published remained the same until 2017 when it was increased from 500 to 800 institutions. The record number of 1 000 universities was published in 2018 and also in 2019.

2. The QS ranking has been published since 2004 by the research company Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. It focuses on a multidimensional assessment of relative strengths of leading world universities whose number has been constantly increasing up to the record number of 1 000 institutions in 2018 and also in 2019. Compared to the ARWU, it does not use the US database Web of Science but the database Scopus of the Dutch publishing house Elsevier, which of course contributes to a greater balance between institutions from English-speaking and non-English-speaking countries. Compared with the two other top rankings, it has the widest scope, as it is addressed by its authors not only to future students and their parents to guide them what university to choose but also to present students, academics, employers, government agencies and all other users to indicate to them what level a given university has reached. The methodology of evaluation is based on six dimensions. The QS is based partly on so-called "hard" data and partly on data from two extensive global reputational surveys among academics and employers (a kind of a global peer review).

3. The THE ranking has been published since 2010, when the British journal The Times Higher Education (THE) terminated their previous co-operation with the research company Quacquarelli Symonds Limited and withdrew from publishing their joint ranking THE-QS World University Rankings that had been published since 2004. The THE ranking has been constantly increasing the number of evaluated and published institutions. In 2012 there were 400 institutions, in 2015 already 800 institutions, in 2017 even 1 103 institutions and in 2019 record of 1 396 higher education institutions.The THE has given greater weight to the size of the institution evaluated. This is the case in about half of THE indicators, while in both ARWU and QS rankings only one of six dimensions takes account of it. This is also why in the THE 2017 ranking a relatively small US university of Caltech placed third (right behind Oxford and Cambridge Universities) or why a relatively small but quite important Czech university of VŠCHT was included (but not in other two rankings). The THE ranking uses five main dimensions; two of them based on results of their own academic reputation survey of teaching and research activities of higher education institutions.
In the table below all 17 dimensions, their weights and brief characteristics used by the rankings ARWU (6 dimensions), QS (6 dimensions) and THE (5 dimensions) in the year 2019 are indicated.

Characteristics and dimensions of the most important rankings (ARWU, QS a THE)

Alumni (10 %) - The total number of the alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Economics and Fields Medal in Mathematics. Alumni are defined as those who obtain bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees from the institution. Different weights are set according to the periods of obtaining degrees. If a person obtains more than one degrees from an institution, the institution is considered once only.
Award (20 %) - The total number of the staff of an institution winning Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Economics and Fields Medal in Mathematics. Staff is defined as those who work at an institution at the time of winning the prize. Different weights are set according to the periods of winning the prizes. If a winner is affiliated with more than one institution, each institution is assigned the reciprocal of the number of institutions.
HiCi (20 %) - The number of Highly Cited Researchers selected by Clarivate Analytics. The Highly Cited Researchers list issued in November 2017 (2017 HCR List as of November) was used for the calculation of HiCi indicator in ARWU 2018. Only the primary affiliations of Highly Cited Researchers are considered.
N&S (20 %) - The number of papers published in Nature and Science between 2012 and 2016. To distinguish the order of author affiliation, a weight of 100% is assigned for corresponding author affiliation, 50% for first author affiliation (second author affiliation if the first author affiliation is the same as corresponding author affiliation), 25% for the next author affiliation, and 10% for other author affiliations. Only publications of 'Article' type is considered.
PUB (20 %) - Total number of papers indexed in Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Science Citation Index in 2017. Only publications of 'Article' type is considered. When calculating the total number of papers of an institution, a special weight of two was introduced for papers indexed in Social Science Citation Index.
PCP (10 %) - The weighted scores of the above five indicators divided by the number of full-time equivalent academic staff. If the number of academic staff for institutions of a country cannot be obtained, the weighted score of the above five indicators is use.

Academic reputation (40%) - The highest weighting of any metric is allotted to an institution’s Academic Reputation score. Based on Academic Survey, it collates the expert opinions of over 70 000 individuals in the higher education space regarding teaching and research quality at the world’s universities. In doing so, it has grown to become the world’s largest survey of academic opinion, and, in terms of size and scope, is an unparalleled means of measuring sentiment in the academic community.
Employer reputation (10%) - Students will continue to perceive a university education as a means by which they can receive valuable preparation for the employment market. It follows that assessing how successful institutions are at providing that preparation is essential for a ranking whose primary audience is the global student community. Employer Reputation metric is based on over 30 000 responses to QS Employer Survey, and asks employers to identify those institutions from which they source the most competent, innovative, effective graduates.
Faculty/Student Ratio (20 %) - Dimension is interpreted as the most effective proxy metric for teaching quality. It assesses the extent to which institutions are able to provide students with meaningful access to lecturers and tutors, and recognizes that a high number of faculty members per student will reduce the teaching burden on each individual academic.
Citations per faculty (20 %) – The total number of citations received by all papers produced by an institution across a five-year period divided by the number of faculty members at that institution. All citations data is sourced using Elsevier’s Scopus database, the world’s largest repository of academic journal data. In 2017, QS assessed 99 million citations from 10.3 million papers once self-citations were excluded.
International faculty ratio (5 %) - Indicator measures the ability of a university to attract undergraduates, postgraduates and faculty from all over the world that is key to its success on the world stage.
International student ratio (5 %) – The internationalization of students expresses scores reflecting the proportion of foreign students (foreigners) out of the total number of students.

Teaching (30 %) - The most recent Academic Reputation Survey (run annually) that underpins this category was carried out in January to March 2018, attracting 10 568 responses. It examined the perceived prestige of institutions in teaching. The responses were statistically representative of the global academy’s geographical and subject mix. The 2018 data are combined with the results of the 2017 survey, giving more than 20 000 responses.
Research (30 %) – The most prominent indicator in this category looks at a university’s reputation for research excellence among its peers, based on the responses to our annual Academic Reputation Survey. Research income is scaled against academic staff numbers and adjusted for purchasing-power parity (PPP).
Citations (30 %) – Indicator examines research influence by capturing the number of times a university’s published work is cited by scholars globally. In 2018 bibliometric data supplier Elsevier examined almost 62 million citations to more than 12.4 million journal articles, article reviews, conference proceedings and books and book chapters published over five years. The data include the 23 000 academic journals indexed by Elsevier’s Scopus database and all indexed publications between 2012 and 2017. Citations to these publications made in the six years from 2012 to 2018 are also collected.
International outlook (7,5 %) – The internationalization of academic staff reflects scores reflecting the proportion of foreign workers (foreigners) in the academic staff. A highly international university acquires and confers a number of advantages. It demonstrates an ability to attract faculty and students from across the world, which in turn suggests that it possesses a strong international brand. It implies a highly global outlook: essentially for institutions operating in an internationalised higher education sector. It also provides both students and staff alike with a multinational environment, facilitating exchange of best practices and beliefs. In doing so, it provides students with international sympathies and global awareness: soft skills increasingly valuable to employers. Both of these metrics are worth 5% of the overall total.
Industry income (2,5 %) – A university’s ability to help industry with innovations, inventions and consultancy has become a core mission of the contemporary global academy. This category seeks to capture such knowledge-transfer activity by looking at how much research income an institution earns from industry (adjusted for PPP), scaled against the number of academic staff it employs.
Education Policy Centre
Faculty of Education
Charles University in Prague
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150 00 Prague 5
Czech Republic