Western edges up in QS Rankings

Bucking a trend among its contemporaries, Western rose slightly year over year in the 2020 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University rankings, mainly on the back of gains related to research output and internationalization that place them among the global elite.

This year, Western found itself ranked No. 211 among top universities around the globe. The university rose from No. 214 in 2019. The highest Western has ever ranked was No. 157 in 2011-12.

The University of Toronto was the highest-ranking Canadian institution at No. 29 and is followed by McGill University (No. 35). Joining them in the Top 200 were the University of British Columbia (No. 51), University of Alberta (No. 113), Université de Montréal (No. 137), McMaster University (No. 140), and University of Waterloo at (No. 173).

Five of Canada’s seven Top 200 universities fell in the ranking.

Released Wednesday, the QS World University Rankings 2020 feature 1,000 of the most prestigious universities in the world, ranked based on a methodology which assesses each institution on six metrics, including its reputation amongst academics and employers.

Digging deeper into the numbers, Western saw a year-over-year uptick in scores related to citations per faculty and international faculty. In fact, those numbers put them in the Top 100 in the world.

Western ranked No. 77 in the world when it came to citations per faculty, making it tops in Canada. Accounting for 20 per cent of the overall rank, citations per faculty measures the average number of citations obtained per faculty member, and “is an estimate of the impact and quality of the scientific work produced by universities.” The indicator is calculated using data from Scopus.

Western also ranked No. 91 in the world when it came to international faculty, second only to Dalhousie University in Canada. Accounting for 5 per cent of the overall rank, international faculty is simply based on the proportion of faculty members who are international and serves as “a proxy measure for how internationally attractive the university is to academic staff.”

At No. 110, Western finished just outside the Top 100 in the world when it came to employer reputation.

Globally, Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named the world’s best university for a record-breaking eighth consecutive year.

Buzz following the release centred around the United States having its worst performance in the history of the QS Rankings, as nearly three-quarters of its 157 ranked universities slid down the rankings. The United States also recorded its lowest number of Top 100 universities (29) since 2016, and four fewer than last year (33).

The United Kingdom also had a poor year, with its third-worst performance since the ranking began, with two-thirds of universities losing places.