Times Higher Education is published in the United Kingdom and thus has its own particular, we presume British, view of what is important in education and what is not, and how it is to be measured. Opinions will differ worldwide.
Whether one takes such rankings seriously or not, the fact is that any such rankings become a part of the image of any university. That same image has a lot to do with student study choices as well as the financing of university research by government and private sources.
As Imre Lakatos so cogently posited, a primary unit of appraisal in science is the "research programme", a basic philosophical observation that could also be expressed more banaly as, "whoever gets the money, calls the shots".
As Bothwell writes:
"Overall 22 countries are represented in the top 200 [of Europe] list, which draws upon data from the 800 universities from 70 countries in the overall THE World University Rankings."We obtained our law degree from Stanford University and are glad to see Stanford ranked 3rd in the Times Higher Education world rankings behind Cal Tech in the USA, the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and just ahead of the University of Cambridge in the UK. Much in the realm of university rankings depends on the selection and weighting of criteria.
If one were to define the best education and hence the best university as one which educates "the whole man" or "the whole woman", then Stanford would modernly always emerge on top of any ranking because it is not only at the top academically together with a mere handfull of other institutions but because it is heads and shoulders above the rest of the competition in being the best student athletic program in the United States (and surely the world), having won the USA Directors' Cup for the last 21 years -- based on actual university sports competitions -- as the best in the nation. See NACDA Directors' Cup at Wikipedia where it is written:
"The NACDA Learfield Sports Directors' Cup is an award given annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to the colleges and universities in the United States with the most success in collegiate athletics.... Stanford University has won the Division I award for twenty-one straight years."There is to our knowledge no comparable record in sports -- and this record is being achieved at a University that not only ranks at the top academically but whose direct environs of Silicon Valley rule the modern world of high tech.
Which university ranking method includes these amazing things? None.
What is even more amazing is that Stanford has only 7000 undergraduate students, as compared to undergraduate student enrollments of e.g. ca. 55000 at Central Florida (UCF), ca. 45000 at Ohio State and Texas A&M, ca. 40000 at Texas (Austin), Arizona State, Penn State, Michigan State and Florida International (FIU), ca. 35000 at Florida, Florida State, Minnesota, Illinois, Rutgers, Houston and Indiana, ca. 30000 at UCLA, Alabama, Washington, Texas Tech, Iowa State, North Texas, Missouri, Temple, San Diego State, Purdue, South Florida (USF) and Arizona, ca. 25000 at LSU, South Carolina, Texas State, Colorado, Utah State, Maryland, San Jose State, North Carolina State, Georgia, Utah, UTSA, Virginia Tech, UNLV, Washington State, Colorado State, Georgia State, Kent State, Cincinnati, Ohio, Florida Atlantic (FAU), NYU, BYU, California (Berkeley) and Oregon State, ca. 20000 at North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Charlotte, Arkansas, East Carolina, Fresno State, Iowa, Akron, Western Michigan, Oregon, Buffalo, Kansas, New Mexico, Old Dominion, Central Michigan, Boise State, Pittsburgh, Middle Tennessee, Eastern Michigan, UTEP, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Kentucky, Kansas State, West Virginia, Georgia Southern, Connecticut, Tennessee, Clemson, Western Kentucky and Nebraska, ca. 15000 at Syracuse, Nevada, Louisville, Louisiana Lafayette, Baylor, Memphis, Hawaii, Toledo, Bowling Green, Miami (Ohio), Ball State, Northern Illinois, Troy, Appalachian State and New Mexico State, ca. 10000 at Notre Dame, Miami (Florida), Marshall, UAB, South Alabama, Northwestern, TCU, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Wyoming, Arkansas State, Southern Miss and Boston College, ca. 7000 at Duke, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Louisiana-Monroe, and SMU, ca. 5000 at Wake Forest, Tulsa, Rice, Air Force, Navy and Army, etc. (all numbers approximate and rounded, please look the exact stats up at https://www.collegeraptor.com/)
It is not without reason that Admissions at Stanford University writes about Athletics and Recreation at Stanford:
"Unparalleled in its success and considered the dominant athletic program nationally, Stanford promotes excellence in both academics and athletics. Consider the following:
- Stanford has captured 21 consecutive Directors' Cup titles (1995–2015), an award that honors the nation's top overall Division I athletic program.
- 300 athletic scholarships are awarded each year.
- There were 42 Stanford-affiliated athletes competing in the London Olympics, winning 16 medals, 12 of which were gold.
- The Stanford campus is home to 127 national championships—more than any other college in the U.S.
- At least one Stanford team has won a national championship during each of the last 39 years. This is the longest continuing streak in the nation....
- 6,800-yard Stanford Golf Course
- 7,200-seat Maples Pavilion
- 4,000-seat Sunken Diamond
- 17-court Taube Family Tennis Stadium
- 2,500-seat, four-pool Avery Aquatic Complex
- 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium"
"Stanford University, its affiliates, and graduates have played a major role in the development of [Silicon Valley]....The impact of Stanford University alumni on the economy is massive, as noted at Best Value Schools (by ROI), is that:
Thousands of high technology companies are headquartered in Silicon Valley.
Among those, the following are in the Fortune 1000: Adobe Systems, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Agilent Technologies, Alphabet Inc., Apple Inc., Applied Materials, Brocade Communications Systems, Cisco Systems, eBay, Electronic Arts, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, HP Inc., Intel, Intuit, Juniper Networks, KLA Tencor, Lockheed Martin, LSI Logic, Marvell Semiconductors, Maxim Integrated Products, National Semiconductor, NetApp, Netflix, Nvidia, Oracle Corporation, Riverbed Technology, Salesforce.com, SanDisk, Sanmina-SCI, Symantec, Tesla Motors, Western Digital Corporation, Xilinx, Yahoo!
Additional notable companies headquartered (or with a significant presence) in Silicon Valley include (some defunct or subsumed):
3Com (acquired by Hewlett-Packard), 8x8, Actel, Actuate Corporation, Adaptec, Actiance, Aeria Games and Entertainment, Akamai Technologies (HQ in Cambridge, Massachusetts), Altera, Amazon.com's A9.com, Amazon.com's Lab126.com, Amdahl, Aricent, Anritsu, AstraQom, Asus (headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan), Atari, Atmel, Broadcom (headquartered in Irvine, California), BEA Systems (acquired by Oracle Corporation), Cadence Design Systems, Cypress Semiconductor, Dell (headquartered in Round Rock, Texas), EMC Corporation (headquartered in Hopkinton, Massachusetts), Extreme Networks, E*TRADE (headquartered in New York, NY), Fairchild Semiconductor, Foundry Networks, Fujitsu (headquartered in Tokyo, Japan), Groupon (headquartered in Chicago, IL), Harmonic, Inc., HCL Technologies (headquartered in Noida, India), Hitachi Data Systems, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, IBM Almaden Research Center (headquartered in Armonk, New York), iCracked, Infosys (headquartered in Bangalore, India), IDEO, Informatica, Intuitive Surgical, Kerio Technologies, LinkedIn, Logitech, Maxtor (acquired by Seagate), McAfee (acquired by Intel), Memorex (acquired by Imation and moved to Cerritos, California), MetricStream, Micron Technology (headquartered in Boise, Idaho), Microsoft (headquartered in Redmond, Washington), Mozilla Foundation, Move, Inc., Nokia (headquartered in Espoo, Finland), Nokia Solutions and Networks (headquartered in Espoo, Finland), NXP Semiconductors, Nook (subsidiary of Barnes & Noble), Olivetti (headquartered in Ivrea, Italy), Opera Software (headquartered in Oslo, Norway), OPPO, Palm, Inc. (acquired by Hewlett-Packard), Panasonic (headquartered in Osaka, Japan), PARC, PayPal (it has been demerged from Ebay), Pixar, Playdom, PlayPhone, Qualcomm, Inc. (HQ in San Diego, CA), Quanta Computer, Quantcast, Quora, Rambus, RSA (acquired by EMC), Samsung Electronics (headquartered in Suwon, Korea), SAP AG (headquartered in Walldorf, Germany), Siemens (headquartered in Berlin and Munich, Germany), Sony (headquartered in Tokyo, Japan), Sony Ericsson, SRI International, Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle Corporation), SunPower, SurveyMonkey, Synopsys Inc., Tata Consultancy Services (headquartered in Mumbai, India), Tibco Software, Tesla Motors, TiVo, TSMC, Twitter, VA Software (Slashdot), VeriSign, Veritas Software (acquired by Symantec), VMware, WebEx (acquired by Cisco Systems), @WalmartLabs (acquired by Walmart Global eCommerce), YouTube (acquired by Google), Yelp, Inc., Zynga"
"The combined annual revenue of all the companies that have been founded by Stanford alumni is over $2.7 trillion, equivalent to the tenth largest single economy in the world."One can also rank the universities in terms of their actual "money clout", i.e. their total college endowments, which of course may not fully reflect their actual sustained current strength, but rather the accumulation of money over time. Money breeds money. According to U.S. News, here is the Top 10:
1. Harvard University - $36,429,256,000A somewhat older, but also useful list for a general overview is The World’s 50 Wealthiest Universities, which lists the universities in the following order: Harvard, Yale, KAUST (Thuwal, Saudi Arabia), Texas (System), Stanford, Princeton, California (System), MIT, Michigan, Texas A&M (System), Notre Dame, Columbia, Cambridge UK, Northwestern (Illinois), Pennsylvania (Penn), Chicago, Oxford UK, Duke, Emory, Washington U in St. Louis, Cornell, Virginia, Rice, USC (Southern California), Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, NYU, Johns Hopkins, Pittsburgh, Penn State (System), Minnesota, KSU (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), Brown, Singapore, North Carolina, Washington (Seattle), Osaka, Kyoto, Purdue, Richmond, Wisconsin (Madison), Pomona, Williams, Illinois, Caltech, Amherst, Boston College, Nanyang Tech (Singapore), Rockefeller U.
2. Yale University - $23,858,561,000
3. Stanford University - $21,466,006,000
4. Princeton University - $20,576,361,000
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - $12,425,131,000
6. Texas A&M University - $10,521,034,492
7. University of Michigan - $9,603,919,000
8. University of Pennsylvania - $9,582,335,000
9. Columbia University - $9,223,047,000
10. University of Notre Dame - $8,189,096,000
So how about the number of billionaire alumni?
CNBC Inside Wealth has the following list:
1. Harvard University - 52 billionaire alumni - $205 billion
2. University of Pennsylvania including Penn's Wharton School of Economics - 28 billionaire alumni - $112 billion
3. Stanford University - 27 billionaire alumni - $76 billion
4. New York University (NYU) - 17 billionaire alumni - $68 billion
5. Columbia University - 15 billionaire alumni - $96 billion (Warren Buffett)
6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology - 15 billionaire alumni - $114 billion
7. Cornell University - 14 billionaire alumni - $35 billion
8. University of Southern California (USC) - 14 billionaire alumni - $32 billion
9. Yale University - 13 billionaire alumni - $77 billion
10. University of Cambridge, UK - 11 billionaire alumni - $48 billion
Another measure are the number of CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) of Fortune 500 companies, compiled by BestColleges.org, CEOs who are accounted for by 38 universities and colleges in the following ranking order:
Harvard, Stanford, Penn, MIT, Cornell, Chicago, Northwestern, Columbia, Yale, SMU, USC, NYU, Texas A&M, Princeton, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Penn State, Purdue, Michigan, Kansas, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Babson, Duke, Minnesota, Brown, Pittsburgh, Clark, Oklahoma, Tufts, San Diego, Virginia, Charlotte, Berkeley, Colorado, Wayne State (Detroit), Boston College, Houston.
But what about the ability of universities to retain members of their incoming freshman class, something which CollegeChoice.net rates as 50 Colleges and Universities with the Happiest Freshmen. Here is their ranking primarily by freshman retention rate: Yale, Chicago, Soka University (Orange County, California), Princeton, Amherst, Stanford, Penn, Dartmouth, MIT, Virginia, Carleton (Minnesota), Harvey Mudd (Claremont), Hillsdale (Michigan), Harvard, Pomona, Notre Dame, Brown, Duke, Middlebury, Johns Hopkikns, Swarthmore, Bowdoin, Haverford, Davidson, Tufts, North Carolina, USC (Southern California), Michigan, Naval Academy, Williams, Columbia, Vassar (Poughkeepsie, NY), Northwestern, Washington U St. Louis, Cornell, Caltech, Vanderbilt, Hamilton, Georgetown, Rice, Berkeley, UCLA, William & Mary, Florida, Rochester, Northeastern (Boston), Worcester (WPI, Massachusetts), Wesleyan (Middletown, CT), USMA (West Point), Wellesley (Massachusetts). Interesting is that many of the colleges and universities with superb freshman retention rates require on campus living or college or dormitory housing. That surely must help young students from becoming isolated from their peers and must instill a feeling of identification with the university or college they are attending.
Last but not least we have the year 2016 rankings of 380 colleges and universities in the USA by The Princeton Review, which "surveyed 136,000 students from across the country". They have many rankings lists. Take a look there for many more interesting ways of viewing the university scene.