A road on the TU Delft campus with grass on the sides. A tall building can be seen on the left right.
The TU Delft campus. (Photo: Marjolein van der Veldt)

TU Delft is ranked 48th in the Times Higher Education’s World University Ranking. That is 22 places higher than last year. However, there is some scepticism about the ranking.

Lees in het Nederlands

Last year, TU Delft was ranked 70th, with Utrecht University (UU, 66th), the University of Amsterdam (UvA, 60th) and Wageningen University (WUR, 59th) ahead of it. UvA and WUR are now 61st and 64th respectively in the new ranking. This year, UU did not give any information to Times Higher Education and is thus not included.

The world ranking website shows that TU Delft has risen mostly due to higher scores in the areas of teaching, research environment, industry and research quality. The last one jumps out with a rise of almost 30%.

In a statement to the HOP press agency, seen by Delta, the UU writes that it took the decision not to take part because of dissatisfaction about the way the ranking is done. The University states that it is ‘virtually impossible to reflect the quality of a whole university ... in just one number’. The UU says that the data and methodology leave much to be desired. It also believes that the ranking places too much emphasis on scores and competition.

Summarising everything in just one single number
This summer, in an interview, an expert group from the UNL (Universities of The Netherlands) stated that in rankings ‘it is a misconception to pretend to be able to summarise the performance of a university in the broadest terms in just one single number’. Universities should not only evaluate their staff on publications in academic journals – which weighs heavily in the ranking – but also on factors such as valorisation, leadership, and didactic quality. 

In the interview, Pieter Duisenberg, the then UNL Chair, stated that rankings are important in determining the position of Dutch universities in the world’s top universities. But he also noted the following. “This (the current methods used in the ranking, Eds.) does not justify the breadth of the work that is done at universities.” 

Duisenberg said that he hopes for a shift in culture and is happy that the University of Twente, Leiden University, Maastricht University, and the Free University of Amsterdam are taking the lead. To date however, only Utrecht University has put its words into deeds.