Good British Universities, again

I don’t want to get into a row with David Blanchflower,who takes issue with the QS University Ranking results 2011 and have no argument with his assertion that Cambridge is not the best University in the World, but unless the U. of Shanghai  (UoS) have revised their methodology since I last looked at it while on the EU’s NESSI steering committee, in early 2009 , they

  • overemphasise Science (& specifically Medicine)
  • overemphasise US publication (& hence English language research)
  • have no teaching quality metric ( apart from alumni citations)

The Shanghai University index in my mind is designed to help China understand how to catchup with the USA, so seems to be working and thus overestimates the success of US, English and Canadian institutions.

While I said, there is no metric for teaching quality; others will claim that Alumni Citations is one, but it is a generational lagging indicator of teaching quality.  The citation marks for UoS scoring (in 2008) are/were two! US based, English Language Science  journals. i.e. Science & Nature which I suggest creates a spurious objective measurement which disguises a University’s agenda to address the future rather than the past. It is also a key factor in overemphasising the success of English language institutions.

The focus on Science and Nobel Prizes strongly suggest that the UoS under estimate colleges such as the LSE, and this is based on its scoring methodology; the LSE is unlikely to win more than one Nobel Prize/year, and I suspect find it harder to publish in Science & Nature.

I have no argument that the QS score is also flawed.

The life bets I made, or more accurately advised others to make recently, were based on the Guardian handbook which is departmentally based, not institutionally based.

See also, if you can be arsed, articles by me originally published on my sun/oracle blog, but now available on,


  1. This article, originally referenced the sun/oracle URLs, I corrected them today.

  2. I am considering a new but short blog on the THES world rankings 2018, and it comes to me that they do not half-life, or inverse age weight citations and Nobel prizes. Surely an article written 20 years ago has less relevance to the institutions quality than one written more recently, although some concept of body of work needs to be born in mind.