Israel's Universities Get Lower Grades in Global Survey

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While both the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University found themselves included the Time Higher Education's annual list of the top 200 universities worldwide, they were ranked at a significantly lower place this year. The Technion, which appeared in last year's list, failed to make the cut.

The Hebrew University, which was ranked 134th last year, was placed 191st in this year's list. Its overall score was lowered to 45, from last year's 53.1. Tel Aviv University barely made the list, being placed 199th with an overall score of 44.3; last year it was ranked 158th, with a 50.5 score.

Topping the list - for the third year running - is the California Institute of Technology. Harvard University climbed to number two this year, followed by Oxford University, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Princeton University, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and the Imperial College London round out the top ten.

Time Higher Education, the leading British weekly on higher education, ranks the world's top academic institutions by rating them according to a number of categories. Teaching and learning environment makes up 30% of the final score, amount of volume of research accounts for 30%, number of citation makes up 30%, industry income 2.5% and international outlook 7.5%.

Tel Aviv University's rating dropped primarily because of its teaching environment score, although its research received a good score. The Hebrew University did well in the citation category, but suffered a drop in the innovation and research volume categories.

In the humanities, the Hebrew University ranked 86, with Stanford and Harvard universities topping the category. No Israeli university ranked in the top 100 health category, which was led by Oxford University.

The Technion was ranked 69th in terms of technology and engineering, with MIT coming in first. No Israeli university made the top 100 list for life sciences or physics, which were led by Harvard and Caltech respectively.

The ranking reflects a decline in Israeli scientific achievement. A recent study revealed a drastic decline in the per capita ratio of research publications over the last decade. In 1991, Israelis published the most academic papers per capita in the world, and remained in the top three countries until 2003, but by 2009 it had fallen to tenth place. According to figures from 2011 (the most recent available), Israel currently sits in thirteenth place.

The study, conducted by the Samuel Neaman Institute and the national council for study and development within the Science, Technology, and Space Ministry, also revealed a decline in the quality of publications, as Israel is currently ranked fifteenth in the world, down from twelfth just six years ago.

In response to the Time Higher Education rankings, the Hebrew University stated that "Israeli research universities are suffering from a lack of advanced equipment and infrastructure necessary for research in the sciences, which harms their rankings. In the field of humanities, which does not require special equipment, the Hebrew University was ranked among the top 100 universities in the world.

At the same time, Hebrew University has maintained its excellence, which is reflected in the Shanghai rankings, considered the most prestigious and objective, which place it among the top 60 universities in the world."
Hebrew University slipped six places in Shanghai rankings over the last year.
Among the top 20 universities on the list, 15 are American, three British, one is Swiss, and another is Canadian. The United States led the list with 77 of the top 200 universities, growing its advantage over the rest of the world by one as compared to last year's list. The United Kingdom was the second most represented nation with 31 universities making the list, Holland had 12 universities on the list and Germany came in with 10 universities.

Asian universities didn't do very well on the list; Japan was represented five times, South Korea four, Hong Kong thrice, China and Singapore twice each and Taiwan had one institution on the list.

The Edmond J. Safra campus, Hebrew University in Jerusalem.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

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