Has Merit Scholarships from Rice University

"Forget this ranking business!"

Vienna - Lost eight places again, but still remains the only one of the 21 Austrian universities to be among the 200 best universities in the world: The University of Vienna has fallen further and is ranked in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking 2013/14 published on Wednesday now in 170th place. In the previous year the largest university in the country landed in 162nd place, in 2011 it was 23 places ahead of it at number 139.

"It is sad to see a university with such a great history dropping back in the rankings year after year," said Ranking Editor Phil Baty: "It seems that this prestigious institution is in danger of falling out of the top 200 due to financial constraints during the economic crisis . "

Two climbed up

Among the 400 world's best universities there are another five from Austria: As in 2012, the University of Innsbruck stayed between 201 and 225 (from 201 onwards it is only ranked in groups of 25, from 301 onwards in groups of 50), TU Wien Made the class promotion to ranks 226-250 (2012: 251 to 275), the Med-Uni Vienna even from the 301-350 block to the 251-275. Things went down for the University of Graz and the University of Linz - both fell from group 301 to 350 to ranks 351 to 400.

The list is again dominated by the USA and the UK, i.e. the usual suspects: Caltec, Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, MIT. The European universities - with the exception of Scandinavia - were generally doing badly this time, according to the THE comment, which sees "alarming signals" from slipping universities, which are contrasted with the successes of the leading East Asian universities.

Source: Times Higher Education Ranking

Austria's only top 200-ranked rector, Heinz W. Engl, recalled the high financial commitment of other countries for their universities and appealed to the new government to make "appropriate investments in university research and teaching".

What one person, Phil Baty, thinks "sad", "hurts" the other: Science Minister Karlheinz Töchterle said that Austria's universities are top performers in many areas, "it hurts all the more when several rankings fail to reflect this - and renowned universities continue to do so lose in places. " His counter-recipe: "Further improvements to the framework conditions are essential."

The chairman of the Science Council, Jürgen Mittelstraß (University of Konstanz), would agree with him completely, only a government would have to do something or better: the right thing. What that would be from the point of view of the advisory body can be found in a specification for the next government.

As far as the various university rankings are concerned, the philosopher of science recommends above all to see the university-political problems behind them and not just ranks and places: "Forget this ranking and rating business, but see that you become as good as possible," says he in the standard conversation. The respective ranking criteria that then led to success - THE is based on 13 indicators from research, teaching, citations, internationalization and the acquisition of third-party funding - "are themselves problematic". If, for example, in-house Nobel Prize winners played a role, then a young university per se would have no chance. The fact that the University of Vienna had to compete without a Med-Uni was also "distorting competition".

However, there are of course facts that cannot be ignored, emphasizes Mittelstraß and mentions "the chronic underfunding of universities, sometimes unbelievably unfavorable childcare ratios, but also the lack of admission rules and real study place funding: all of this goes without saying at the universities with which we compete Austrians would have all of that too, then they will have a chance to play. " (Lisa Nimmervoll, DER STANDARD, October 3rd, 2013)