Russian institutions beat CEE peers on world university ranking

Russian institutions beat CEE peers on world university ranking
The best-ranked universities on THE's global index are concentrated in Europe and the US.
By bne IntelliNews September 6, 2017

A handful of Russian universities are among the best ranked in the emerging markets and Brics index compiled by Times Higher Education (THE). 

On the THE’s global index, meanwhile, most universities from the CEE/CIS region perform relatively poorly, with even Lomonosov Moscow State University — the best ranked institution from the region in the global index — in a relatively lowly 194th position. 

UK and US-based universities occupy almost the entire top 10 of the global index, with Oxford and Cambridge universities taking the two top spots and three US universities — California Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology — in the following three places. 

The ranking judges research-intensive universities using 13 performance indicators looking at teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. 

On the sub-ranking of 300 universities in emerging markets and Brics countries, China dominates, accounting for no less than 52 entries, including 44 in the top 200 and six in the top 10. 

By contrast, the authors describe the performance of Russian universities as “mixed”. In total, 14 Russian institutions make the top 200, down from 15 on last year’s index, including Lomonosov Moscow State University in third place. 

In terms of individual indicators, Lomonosov Moscow State University and other Russian universities tended to have their overall scores lifted by the “industry income” category, while they performed less well in areas such as “citations”, “research” and “international outlook”. 

The rector of the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia and a former Russian education minister, Vladimir Filippov, argues in a comment for THE that efforts to encourage internationalisation at Russia’s top universities — for example through Moscow’s Academic Excellence Initiative, which aims to put five of the country’s universities into the top 100 of international rankings by 2020 — are paying off. 

“Twenty one leading Russian universities, together with Lomonosov Moscow State University and Saint Petersburg State University, are giving urgent, close attention to internationalisation as a means to drive up the quality of education and research,” writes Filippov.

However, the strong performance of Russia’s most prestigious universities is not matched across the board. “While the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology climbs an impressive 81 places to 12th, thanks to an improved performance across all five pillars underlying the methodology, Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University falls 89 places to joint 107th, due to a much weaker research influence than last year,” the report says.

Nonetheless, Russia still beats out Central and East European countries. In the region, the best performer is Central European University (16th place on the emerging markets ranking), an institution that has come under attack recently from the Hungarian authorities which are bent on carrying out a witch hunt against billionaire philanthropist George Soros, the university’s funder. 

The CEU is followed by Estonia’s University of Tartu, Charles University in Prague and the University of Warsaw.

Turkish universities also performed relatively well; Koc University was in 15th place on the emerging markets ranking, closely followed by Sabanci University in 18th place. The higher ranked Turkish universities do, however, tend to have their scores dragged down by the “research” and “training” categories.