Vienna University falls in world rankings

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Vienna University falls in world rankings
Students at the University of Vienna. Photo: APA/PFARRHOFER

Times Higher Education (THE) magazine has published its 2014-15 World University Rankings - the 11th annual edition of the globally trusted rankings, with one Austrian university only just managing to stay in the top 200.


Austria’s University of Vienna placed joint 182 - down from 170 in last year’s rankings. It ranks equally with Turkey’s Sabanci University which made it into the top 200 for the first time.

The rector of Vienna University, Heinz Engl, said the slip in the rankings is down to years of underfunding. "Moving a few places up or down is not a problem," said Engl. "But if you look at the long-term average of the results, that's questionable. We will lose out without additional investment."

In the 2011 rankings Vienna University placed 139. “Turkish universities are surpassing us as they have had strong investment and that shows in the rankings,” Engl said.

Turkey had an outstanding year, increasing its representation in the top 200 from one university last year to four, thanks to extremely strong scores for research impact. The Middle East Technical University moved into 85th position to lead Turkey.

“Our student teacher ratio is significantly worse than at Munich or Zurich universities,” Engl admitted. “That’s reflected in the rankings, and it’s due to underfunding.”

Germany had a strong year, gaining two additional top 200 universities to take its total to 12, putting it third behind the US and UK.

Switzerland also continued to punch above its weight with seven top-200 universities and the number one ranked university outside of the US and UK, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, which moved up one place to 13th.

Phil Baty, editor of the World University Rankings, told The Local that successful universities "are more willing to use English - Germany has been more focused on international collaborations. English is the language for international students, and teaching in English is growing in Germany, and the Netherlands."

The California Institute of Technology retains its place at the top of the rankings for the fourth consecutive year, with Harvard University retaining second place. The UK’s University of Oxford slips one place from joint second to third, Stanford University holds fourth place and the UK’s University of Cambridge moves up two places to fifth.

The rankings are the world’s most comprehensive global league tables, using 13 separate performance indicators to examine a university’s strengths against all its core missions - research, knowledge transfer, international outlook and the teaching environment.


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