Israeli universities, according to several ranking and rating services, are among the best in the world. On Friday, the UK’s Times Higher Education (THE) weekly magazine released its list of the top 400 universities in the world, and four Israeli universities — Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, the Technion, and Bar-Ilan University — made the list. Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University are listed among the top 200, at numbers 121 and 166 respectively.
In addition, both Hebrew U and TAU made it to the top 100 of the weekly’s best Universities by Reputation index, listed in the 61-70 ranking level and the 81-90 ranking level respectively. The only other university in the region to make this list was Middle East Technical University in Turkey. The report noted that the differentials between schools in the 51-100 ranking levels were “minimal.”
The index of World University Rankings evaluates schools based on a number of criteria, including quality of teaching, the amount of research done at institutions, the number of times that research is cited in academic or scientific journals, “international outlook” (examining the interconnectedness of the institution to the international academic and scientific community) and the innovations developed as a result of work done at the schools. The Reputation index examines how the institutions rank on the quality of teaching and research in a worldwide poll of academics, administrators, and scientists. This year’s poll, the indices’ publishers said, included some 30,000 respondents from 149 countries.
In the top universities index, Hebrew University received a 50.4 rating (with 100 the maximum score), the 13th best in Asia, where the leader was the University of Tokyo, with a 74.3 score. Out of the five main criteria, Hebrew U’s best characteristic was the quality of its research. Tel Aviv University came in 17th in Asia, with a 45.4 overall score; the school scored very high on research, among the top ten of all universities in Asia.
According to the magazine, the rankings are “the gold standard in international university performance comparisons,” adding that the rankings “are based on criteria and weightings that were carefully selected after extensive consultation.” There has been criticism in the US of the rankings published annually by U.S. News and World Report, with some members of the academic community saying that those rankings do not give an accurate picture of the overall education a student can expect.
The top five schools in the ranking are the California Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, University of Oxford, and Princeton.
Besides high rankings on the index, two Israeli institutions — Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University — were ranked among the 500 top patent-filing institutions by the World Intellectual Property Organization, which supervises intellectual property matters for the United Nations. Hebrew University filed 52 patents in 2011, putting it 23rd world-wide among educational institutions, while Tel Aviv University, with 43 patents in 2011, was 33rd on the list of educational institutions filing patents.
Overall, Israeli universities and businesses were estimated to have filed 1,452 patents in 2011, the 16th highest among WIPO-member countries. By contrast, Israel’s Arab neighbors (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia) filed 187 patents between them. Turkish universities and corporations filed 541, while Iran filed one.
And, although it wasn’t listed among the top 500 on the university index or the patent listing, Ben-Gurion University of the Negevwas also singled out for an academic honor last week. Dissertations and theses by Ben-Gurion University students and staff will now be included in the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database , the world’s largest commercially available repository of graduate works. The database is an essential tool for researchers to keep track of what colleagues in other institutions are working on, ProQuest says, and membership in the database is generally limited only to top universities around the world.
“BGU was a pioneer in digital dissemination for their graduate work in Israel and throughout the globe via their institutional repository,” Marta Lee-Perriard, Publisher for International Theses & Dissertations, said in a press release. “More than ever before, world class research is the product of rich academic interchange that spans continents. We are excited about the potential to advance scholarship by surfacing these innovative graduate works alongside those of other leading institutions in PQDT.”