Posted by: Dirk | September 20, 2010

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2010/11

My alma mater made it into the top 200. I am not sure how this list is assembled, but here is what they say about their #43 (my highlighting):

Otto von Bismarck studied law here and declared: “Göttingen belongs to the whole of Europe.” Founded by England’s King George II in his capacity as Elector of Hanover, it first accepted students in 1737. Since the Brothers Grimm taught here, 45 Nobel laureates have walked its grounds. Currently there are 24,000 students at the university, which is informally known as “Georgia Augusta”.

Just one question: did they steal from Wikipedia, or did Wikipedia steal from them? Here is the start of the Wikipedia article on the University of Göttingen, which by the way is not informally known as Georgia Augusta:

The University of Göttingen (German: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen), known informally as Georgia Augusta, is a university in the city of Göttingen, Germany.

Founded in 1734 by King George II of Great Britain and the Elector of Hanover, it opened for classes in 1737.

Comparing universities all over the world is a task I think impossible. What exactly does it mean to put Beijing university at #37?  I can see the point of comparing faculties or departments, but whole universities? When it comes to citations, big universities will come out ahead of small ones, like Oldenburg where I am now, because academics tend to cite colleagues located around them. And given the dismal record of (macro)economics in the past, do you really want to be where the professors have a track record of being wrong?

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