Academic Ranking of World Universities

Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), also known as Shanghai Ranking, is an annual publication of university rankings by Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. The league table was originally compiled and issued by Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2003, the first global ranking with multiple indicators, and was then improved by international advisories. The publication now comprises the world's overall and subject league tables, together with independent regional Greater China Ranking and Macedonian HEIs Ranking. ARWU is praised for its objective methodology and is considered as one of the three most influential and widely observed university measures, alongside the QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education World University Rankings; however, it is also condemned for undermining humanities and quality of instruction.

Global rankings

Academic Ranking of World Universities



ARWU is praised by several media and institutions for its methodology and influence. A survey on higher education published by The Economist in 2005 commented ARWU as "the most widely used annual ranking of the world's research universities." In 2010, The Chronicle of Higher Education called ARWU "the best-known and most influential global ranking of universities". EU Research Headlines reported the ARWU's work on 31 December 2003: "The universities were carefully evaluated using several indicators of research performance." Chancellor of Oxford University, Chris Patten and former Vice-Chancellor of Australian National University, Ian Chubb, said: "the methodology looks fairly solid ... it looks like a pretty good stab at a fair comparison." and "The SJTU rankings were reported quickly and widely around the world… (and they) offer an important comparative view of research performance and reputation." respectively. Philip G. Altbach named ARWU's "consistency, clarity of purpose, and transparency" as significant strengths.


Like all the other rankings, ARWU has criticism as well. It is condemned for "relying to much on award factors" thus undermining the importance of quality of instruction and humanities. A 2007 paper published in the journal Scientometrics found that the results from the Shanghai rankings could not be reproduced from raw data using the method described by Liu and Cheng. In a report from April 2009, J-C. Billaut, D. Bouyssou and Ph. Vincke analyze how the ARWU works, using their insights as specialists of Multiple Criteria Decision Making (MCDM). Their main conclusions are that the criteria used are not relevant; that the aggregation methodology has a number of major problems; and that insufficient attention has been paid to fundamental choices of criteria. The ARWU researchers themselves, N.C Liu and Y Cheng, think that the quality of universities cannot be precisely measured by mere numbers and any ranking must be controversial. They suggest that university and college rankings should be used with caution and their methodologies must be understood clearly before reporting or using the results. ARWU has been criticized by the European Commission as well as some EU member states for "favour[ing] Anglo-Saxon higher education institutions". For instance, ARWU is repeatedly criticized in France, where it triggers an annual controversy, focusing on its ill-adapted character to the French academic system

Overall results

Alternative ranking

As it may take much time for rising universities to produce Nobel laureates and Field Medalists with numbers comparable to those of older institutions, the Shanghai institute created an alternative ranking excluding such award factors so as to provide another way of comparisons of academic performance. The weighting of all the other factors remains unchanged, thus the grand total of 70%.

Subject rankings

There are two categories in ARWU's rankings by subjects, broad subject fields and specific subjects. The methodology is similar to that adopted in the overall table, including award factors, paper citation, and the number of highly cited scholars.

Regional rankings

Academic Ranking of World Universities

Considering the development of specific areas, two regional league tables with different methodologies were launched.

Greater China rankings



Macedonian HEIs rankings





External links

  • Academic Ranking of World Universities Website
  • Interactive maps comparing the ARWU, Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings
  • Jambor, Paul Z. 'The Changing Dynamics of PhDs and the Future of Higher Educational Development in Asia and the Rest of the World' Department of Education â€" The United States of America: Educational Resources Information Center, September 26, 2009 (Accessed in October, 2009)
  • Csizmazia Roland A., Jambor, Paul Z. "Korean Higher Education on the Rise: Time to Learn From the Success â€" Comparative Research at the Tertiary Education Level", Human Resource Management Academic Research Society: International Journal of Academic Research in Progressive Education and Development,Volume 3, Issue 2 (March, 2014)

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