Survey: University has twelfth-best reputation in world

By Sam Gringlas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 5, 2013

A recently released survey ranked the University as having a reputation among the top 15 universities in the world.

Times Higher Education, a London-based magazine covering higher education, released their annual World Reputation Rankings Monday, which placed the University of Michigan as the university with the twelfth highest reputation in the world. This is the second year the University has held the no. 12 ranking. This year it placed ahead of schools such as Colombia and the University of Chicago.

The list, topped by Harvard, MIT, and Cambridge, is based on surveys of 16,300 peer academics globally who were asked to nominate up to 15 of the best institutions of higher education in their field.

Phil Baty, editor of the rankings, said while reputation is subjective, a university’s brand is important in the increasingly competitive and globalized market for higher education.

“It has serious real-world impact — helping to attract top student and academic talent, and encouraging industrial investment and benefactions,” Baty said.

Baty also noted that research shows a university’s ranking, over salary and location, is the most important factor in academics moving jobs. In addition, Baty said international students prioritize reputation over tuition costs and course offerings.

In an analysis alongside the rankings, Robert Birgeneau, chancellor of the number five-ranked University of California, Berkeley, noted the increasing and ever-important presence of public universities alongside private institutions on the list.

“In an era of disinvestment in the United States’ public universities, the greatest of their number has improved its reputation through creativity, entrepreneurialism and innovation,” Birgeneau wrote.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said while top rankings are a plus, they are only one of many elements that make an institution the right choice for potential students.

Fitzgerald also noted the Times ranking is slightly different than traditional lists since its orders institutions by reputation. For Fitzgerald and the University’s Office of Public Affairs, building the University’s brand and reputation is an important goal.

“It’s simply by sharing the many components of the university and the really cool things faculty, staff and students are doing and sharing what’s being done on campus,” Fitzgerald said. “Our role is to help share those really cool stories.”

Fitzgerald said one example is the Michigan’s World Class series, which details unique teaching efforts happening in the University’s classrooms.

“The University wants to be held in high regard for the many things we do, whether that’s teaching, service, economic development efforts, patient care at the health system, it’s another indication of the quality of all the many things that happen here on campus,” Fitzgerald said.

While the United States and the United Kingdom dominate the top ten, with the exception of the University of Tokyo in Japan, 2o countries appear in the top 100, with the rankings of Asian countries rising from previous years, according to the Times article.

The survey responses, though, originate predominately in the Americas, which accounted for 39% of those surveyed. Twenty-six percent were from year Europe, 25% from Asia, and 12% from the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. The responses are also distributed across disciplines.

To compile the rankings, the survey asks published scholars to rank the reputations of their respective disciplines at institutions they are familiar with. These responses are paired with 11 objective indicators, including research volume and income, frequency of research citations and income from industry projects.