The world's best universities

The Times Higher Education World University Ranks were published this week, and five German universities have made this year's list.

The top-ranking German university according to the 2013 Ranks is the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität München, at place 44.  Following were Technische Universität München, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Universität Heidelberg, and Freie Universität Berlin, in that order.

The ranking, which Times calls “the world’s largest invitation-only academic opinion survey,” is compiled by polling senior, published academics their opinions, is a subjective rather than quantitative ranking.  Still, it is thought to be definitive when it comes to excellence in universities world-wide. 

In order to ensure that the survey participants represent the demographics of world scholarship, the Academic Reputation Survey uses United Nations data, and participants are also evenly distributed between academic disciplines.  The 2013 ranking is based on responses from 16,639 academics from 144 countries.  Respondents had been working in academia for an average of 17 years.

Scholars who are surveyed are questioned “at the level of their specific subject discipline,” according to the Times Higher Education website.  They are not asked to rank a long list of institutions; they are asked to name no more than 15 of the top higher education institutions based on their own experience.

Universities in the United States featured largely on the list, with Harvard University ranking at number one.  To find out more and to read the complete list of rankings, visit the Times Higher Education website.