Two Israeli Schools Break Top 100 in Prestigious Global University Ranking

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Hebrew University-sponsored conference on 40th anniversary of "Dirty War," in Tel Aviv, March 22, 2016.
Hebrew University-sponsored conference on 40th anniversary of "Dirty War," in Tel Aviv, March 22, 2016.Credit: Erez Blasbalg

Israeli universities have scored high in the 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities of the best 500 universities, breaking into the top 100.

The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology rose to the prestigious 69th spot in the global rankings, up from 79th place last year; and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem fell 20 spots to 87. The Hebrew University has been moving steadily downwards in recent years, from 59 in 2013 – though being among the 100 top universities is still considered a major achievement.

After the first 100 universities, the schools are ranked in groups, with the Weizmann Institute of Science being ranked in the 101-150 bloc; and Tel Aviv University is in the 151-200 group.  Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is ranked in the 401-500 group. Last year Bar-Ilan University was also in this group, but in 2016 it has fallen out of the rankings.

The top 10 of the rankings remained relatively unchanged and includes mostly American universities, along with two British institutions: Harvard University is still number one; followed by Stanford; University of California, Berkeley; followed in fourth place by Cambridge University; MIT, Princeton, Oxford; Cal Tech; Columbia and the University of Chicago in 10th.

The ARWU rankings are considered to be among the most prestigious and credible international academic rankings published regularly. The rankings focus on academic research in particular, along with a number of other parameters, including the number of faculty and graduates who have won major awards such as Nobel Prizes, as well as measures of faculty members' publications and citations.   

The annual rankings focus on science, technology and economics, but not the humanities.  They are compiled by the Shanghai Rankings Consultancy, and are better known as the Shanghai Rankings. The ARWU was first published in 2003 by the Graduate School of Education of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, before Shanghai Rankings took them over in 2009.

The main reason for the Technion's steady climb in the rankings is the hiring of young and talented faculty, Prof. Peretz Lavie, the president of the Technion, told Haaretz.  "Half of the Technion faculty has joined in the last 10 years. The quality of our young faculty members is simply impressive and extraordinary.  It is expressed in scientific achievements, in research and publications, and it has given enormous momentum to the Technion," he said.

Taking into account the fact that the Technion reached 69th place in the world without the government having invested in building the Technion over the past 40 years is a miracle, said Lavie.