ITMO University Makes a Big Debut in 2018 Shanghai Global Ranking of Academic Subjects

Published by Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, an independent organization that conducts research on higher education intelligence, the Academic Ranking of World Universities, also known as Shanghai Ranking, is seen as the most objective among the most influential university rankings out there. It achieves this by fully leaving out surveys and interviews that are often included in other rankings but are inevitably subjective; instead, it uses factual criteria such as publishing metrics and the number of Nobel Prize and Fields Medals laureates among alumni and staff, and focuses on scientific and academic performance. The competition is tough: out of more than 4,000 contenders this year only 1,600 made it to the final list, ITMO University among them.

The Shanghai Ranking Consultancy has announced the results of its annual Global Ranking of Academic Subjects. Having assessed more than 4,000 higher education institutions on their performance in 54 academic subjects, the authors of the ranking established the top universities in five academic fields such as Natural Sciences, Engineering, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences and Social Sciences. 

Educational institutions were evaluated based on five criteria: research performance, position in the subject-specific citation indices, the number of papers published in leading academic journals, and the number of international academic awards received by alumni and staff. To make it into the 2018 ranking, universities had to meet the subject-specific minimal requirements of the number of papers published over the four-year period between 2012 - 2016, with Physics having the highest requirements for the Natural Sciences group and Materials Science for the Engineering group. Publishing metrics were obtained from the Web of Science and InCites databases. Among the prizes and awards taken into special consideration were the Nobel Prize, Fields and Priestley Medals and other international marks of honor. The final best-of-the-best list included 1,600 universities from 83 countries, including 17 universities from Russia; for reference, there were 12 Russian universities in 2017. 


Making a grand entrance into the 2018 ranking was ITMO University, which debuted in three subject fields by showing the best aggregate results in Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies (201-300 position) and moving to the fore of the Materials Sciences and Technology (301-400 position) and Electrical and Electronic Engineering (position 401-500) groups. Other Russian universities included in the ranking are Lomonosov Moscow State University, which is the group leader with 17 mentions in the ranking, St. Petersburg State University, which has 9 mentions, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Higher School of Economics, Novosibirsk State University, Tomsk State University, Tomsk Polytechnic University, National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, N. I. Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod, Belgorod State University, Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas, D. Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia, National University of Science and Technology MISiS, Ural Federal University, and New Economic School. In total, Russian universities have 62 appearances in the ranking, with the most mentions in Physics. 

Among the Russian universities included in the 2018 ranking are 11 participants of the 5-100 Russian Academic Excellence Project; this signals a definite progress in comparison with the 2015 ranking results which included only one 5-100 Project participant, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. 5-100 universities significantly contributed to the improving Russian representation in the Global Ranking of Academic Subjects: while last year the 5-100 participants were mentioned in 9 subject groups, this year they almost doubled this number at 17 subject groups. Some universities such as ITMO University, Higher School of Economics, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, National University of Science and Technology MISiS, Novosibirsk State University, and Tomsk State University are represented in more than one subject. Overall, the participants of the 5-100 Russian Academic Excellence Project have 32 mentions in the 2018 ranking; most of the universities not only managed to keep their positions, but also showed progress in new research areas such as Economics, Sociology, and Metallurgical Engineering, also making a debut in Earth Sciences, Atmospheric Science, Instruments Science & Technology, Materials Science & Engineering, Mining & Mineral Engineering, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, Chemical Engineering, and Electrical & Electronic Engineering.

“The Academic Ranking of World Universities is considered one of the strictest and most transparent rankings out there. ITMO University made a successful debut in the 2018 ranking thanks to the recent rapid increase in the number of papers published in international scientific journals, as well as in the number of papers that were co-written with leading international scientists, which is largely due to the ITMO’s participation in the 5-100 Russian Academic Excellence Project,” commented Ilya Kuftiryov, head of ITMO’s Rankings Research Center. 

Heading the 2018 ranking are universities from the US (4,661 mentions), China (2,171 mentions), and the UK (1,487 mentions). University of Michigan, University of British Columbia and University of New South Wales have the best representation in the list, being included in 52 subjects. Coming in on top with its 17 first places is Harvard, which leads in 9 Social Sciences, 4 Medical Sciences, 2 Life Sciences and 2 Engineering subject categories. Massachusetts Institute of Technology tops 5 subject categories, 4 of which belong to the Engineering group.

The Shanghai Global Ranking of Academic Subjects has been published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy since 2009. With the QS World University and the Times Higher Education rankings, it forms the main aim of the 5-100 Russian Academic Excellence Project, which is working towards having at least 5 Russian universities represented in the top-100 positions of these rankings. 

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