ShanghaiRanking began to publish Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) by academic subjects since 2009. The 2019 release contains rankings of universities in 54 subjects across Natural Sciences, Engineering, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Social Sciences. In total, more than 4000 universities were ranked.

Harvard University claimed the number one position for the 17th time, followed by Stanford and the UK’s University of Cambridge in second and third places respectively. Of the top 20, joining the University of Cambridge are fellow British institutions the University of Oxford at number seven and University College London at 17th position. ETH Zurich is the only university from continental Europe in the top 20, ranked 19th overall, while the University of Copenhagen is ranked 26.

Seven Australian universities joined them in the top 100, with The University of Melbourne (41st) rated above other universities in Oceania. The University of New South Wales (94th) made its first-ever appearance in the Top 100.

In a statement, IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence said the ranking is well regarded for a consistent and transparent methodology, using six indicators derived from publicly accessible data. “It has usually avoided the volatility that has sometimes undermined other global rankings,” it explained.

President of the Higher Education Policy Institute, Bahram Bekhradnia, who has previously written a report calling for universities and governments to discount rankings when deciding their priorities, policies and actions, said the rankings were “more honest” than others.
“The Shanghai rankings incorporate only research criteria and do not pretend to assess universities on the basis of anything other than research. They are rankings of research quality, and explicitly so,”

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