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Times University Rankings 2012

When searching for that perfect college for you, Times Higher Education is one of the best sources for finding out more about the best schools from around the world. Known as the “Top 200 World Universities,” this list considers a number of factors when rating colleges and can provide students with some great information about each school. While this is just one of the tools you can use when comparing colleges, understanding how this list is created can help you understand some of the education choices available to you.

First and foremost, it is important to note that the Times college rankings will likely be changing significantly over the next several years. From 2004 to 2009, the list was compiled in conjunction with Quacquarelli Symonds, or QS. However, from 2010 on, the list will instead be compiled in conjunction with Thomson Reuters. So, their methodology might change and improve with this new partnership, which will give students an even more helpful ranking of schools.

Currently, the Times college list is compiled based on factors that fall into six different categories:

  • Peer Review Score
  • Faculty/Student Score
  • Citations/Faculty Score
  • Recruiter Review Score
  • International Faculty Score
  • International Students Score

The scores in each of these categories are based on factories like faculty publications and student-to-staff ratio. Each category is weighted based on how important Times believes these factors to be. This list is most highly criticized because of the weight given to peer review, which has, until 2009, accounted for 40% of the total score.

Peer review is important because it is a way for Times to understand a school’s reputation in the academic world. Each school is asked to participate in a survey, where they rank other schools with which they’re familiar. The problem with this, however, is that some schools strategically rank certain schools lower simply because they want to skew the ranking results. So, to put so much weight on peer review may not make the list extremely accurate for all schools, according to critics. It is speculated that this will be one of the pieces of methodology that will change in the coming years.

In addition to producing their list of the 200 best colleges in the world, Times also ranks colleges on smaller lists according to specific categories. There are lists for schools emphasizing engineering/IT, science and biomedicine, natural sciences, social sciences, and arts/humanities. These smaller lists are often more helpful to students than the larger international list that takes all colleges into consideration.

Times publishes its list every fall in their magazine, as well as online. While this is a great way to start your search for the perfect college, remember that the top school for you may not necessarily be atop this or any other college rankings. Make in-person visits to campuses, talk to professors and students, learn about scholarship and grant availability, and do research beyond subjective rankings to learn more about every school you’re considering.

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