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29 April 2004

Ranking of World Universities Confirms Leading Position of the University of Heidelberg

International comparison by "Academic Ranking of World Universities — 2003" puts University of Heidelberg in the first division — 12th place in Europe — Vice-Rector Professor Angelos Chaniotis: A leading institution in the international higher-education landscape

A recently published survey confirms that the University of Heidelberg is up among the leaders not only in Germany but also world-wide. In Europe, Heidelberg came 12th, just missing inclusion in the Top Ten. In Germany the only university to do better was the University of Munich.

"Academic Ranking of World Universities — 2003" is the title the Shanghai Jiao Tong University gave to its project, the first to take account of different success criteria for purposes of comparison between 2,000 universities all over the world. The ranking is a further confirmation of the status of Heidelberg as an academic location based on an international study. Prof. Dr. Angelos Chaniotis, vice-rector with special responsibility for international relations, said: "It is very gratifying that this ranking comes to much the same conclusions on German and European universities as the one on research-intensive universities in Europe conducted by the Universities of Leuven and Leyden. The fact that two institutions applying different criteria arrive at the same results makes us feel very confident about the standing of the University of Heidelberg as a leading institution in the international higher-education landscape."

The transparency of the methods used to measure quantifiable achievement is one of the major assets of the "Academic Ranking of World Universities — 2003". Rankings of this kind frequently need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Accordingly, the Shanghai team were very open about the criteria they were using. Essential factors for the ranking were the number of Nobel Prize laureates, the number of frequently cited scientists and scholars, the articles published in the Nature and Science journals, the amount of articles in the Science Citation Index Expanded and the Social Sciences Citation Index and the overall achievement in relationship to the number of researchers employed by a university. No comparison was made between individual disciplines and this policy will be upheld in future rankings. The universities were examined on their overall showing.

In Europe the first four places all went to Britain. Institutions like Cambridge and Oxford were once again a token of the quality of British universities. Equally undeniable is the enormous clout of American universities, which took the first four places on the global scale, followed by Cambridge in 5th place. The first non-Anglo-American university to figure is Tokyo University, in 19th place. At the global level, Heidelberg achieved an extremely respectable 58th place. The ranking is thus bound to furnish new material in the discussion on elite universities. Despite Heidelberg's good showing, the results indicate what needs to be done in the coming years if Germany is not to be left behind in the international research landscape.

Ironically, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University itself only came 401st, joining such universities as Bremen, Idaho or Granada in the listings for places 401 to 450. But Shanghai University deserves a vote of thanks for the trouble gone to in China to assure a fair comparison. For more information and a full list of the rankings go to

Heiko P. Wacker

Please address any inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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