Israeli universities continue to slip in world rankings

Israeli universities continue to slip in world rankings

Tel Aviv University rated country’s best; study’s editor says Israel’s consistent decline is ’cause for concern’

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of the Tel Aviv University campus. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)
Illustrative photo of the Tel Aviv University campus. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)

Tel Aviv University was rated the top Israeli university in an influential rankings list released Wednesday, though overall numbers showed a marked decline in the international standing of Israeli universities.

While three of the four Israeli universities represented on the list diminished in their standing on the Times Higher Education magazine’s 2015 Asia University Rankings list, Tel Aviv University slipped the least.

The Tel Aviv institution placed 22nd on the list of Asian nations, down three spots from last year’s 19th place, according to magazine. Continuing its slide in world rankings, Jerusalem’s Hebrew University dropped down to 25th place from 18th place in 2014 — losing its title as the the top higher education institution in the Middle East, a title that now went to Turkey’s Middle East Technical University.

The Technion, or Israel Institute of Technology, was ranked 31st place in 2015, down from 26th place last year.

The religious Bar-Ilan University re-entered the rankings in 2015 at 75th place, having missed out on the continent’s rankings in previous years.

“It is cause for concern that Israel keeps losing ground in this list,” Phil Baty, editor of the UK-based Times Higher Education Rankings said.

“Although Bar-Ilan University has re-entered the table after missing out last year, and Israel’s other representatives remain in the top 50, their positions have weakened,” Baty wrote.

While praising Tel Aviv University’s top spot, Baty said that overall, Israeli institutions urgently needed to make changes.

“There is a risk that the country will continue to lose out to its wealthier Asian rivals unless it increases university investment — and soon.”

The University of Tokyo, the National University of Singapore and the University of Hong Kong top the list as Asia’s best institutions.

Other than Israel, the Middle East was represented by universities from Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Thanks to a surge in the rankings by Turkish universities, Israel no longer boasts the top university in the region. Turkey’s Middle East Technical University leaped to 12th place, up from 17th last year, and replaced Hebrew University as the regional leader. For the first time, three other Turkish universities ranked in the top 20 in the 2015 ranking.

The magazine’s university rankings are 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 and the innovations developed as a result of work done at the schools.

In the worldwide rankings published Times Higher Education earlier this year, Tel Aviv University was the only Israeli institution to make it onto the list of the world’s top 200 most reputable schools, at 188.

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