Times Higher Education World Uni Rankings 2017-2019. A review

Last month Times Higher Education published the latest World University Rankings (WUR) with the top 1258 Universities in the world. Compared to the last year’s tables, the 2019 World University Rankings include 156 Universities more. We crunched the data and we created an infographic taking also under cosideration the WUR tables of the last 2 years.

Key findings

– In the 2019 tables are represented 85 countries compared to the 80 countries in the 2017 tables. This is also due to the increase of the number of Universities (from 981 in 2017 to 1258 in 2019).
– Latin America has seen the number of its Universities double in the tables (from 43 in 2017 to 87 in 2019) within the last 2 years.
– Asia is on the rise and the gap between the number of asian Universities and the number of european Universities appearing in the tables is shrinking. If it continues in that rate, Asia may overtake Europe in terms of number of Universities in the tables within the next 2 years.
– Japan (103 Universities) is now second behind the US (173) and above the UK (98) in the top 5 countries with the most Universities in the WUR.
– India (49) surpassed this year Germany (47) in the number of Universities appearing in the charts.
– OECD countries seem to lose some of their market share. 72% of all the Universities in the WUR 2017 tables were in the OECD member countries. In the latest tables only 67% of the Universities are in a OECD member country. And what is a loss for the OECD countries is a -slight- gain for the BRICS (from 14.5% in 2017 to 16% in 2019). The big winner is Universities from the rest of the world (their share grew from 13.4% in 2017 to 16.8% in 2019).

Who said Higher Education is not global?

Thank you very much for reading! Enjoy!

THES University Rankings


Academous featured in Greek newspaper, to Vima

In April 2018, one of the largest newspapers in Greece in terms of circulation, to Vima, dedicated a whole page on Academous. If it is not all Greek to you, we spoke about Academous and our experiences so far, Research and Higher Education and you can find the full article here.

We would like to thank the reporter Olga Klontza and everyone who helped us make this publication happen.


We ran a social media competition. This is what we found.

We are NOT “social media gurus” so we will keep it simple. In this article we want to give you an idea of what happened when we ran a competition – quiz on facebook and twitter last December. Keep in mind that what worked or not worked for us, might work for you or not.

First things first. For those of you who don’t know us, let us introduce ourselves. We are Academous!

  • We are building an online platform that will help University Researchers and PhD students in Universities of the EU and OECD member countries find participants locally for our user studies and online surveys.
  • Our industry is a) Research in b) Higher Education.
  • We have a small presence in social media. 138 followers in Facebook and 176 followers on Twitter.

In December 2017 we decided to do our first competition through our facebook and twitter account. We don’t use other social media yet such as instagram or reddit. Our digital marketing budget was zero (0) dollars, pounds or euros. We wouldn’t advertise it. If we have nothing important to say, we enjoy the silence. Or if you like, as John Cage has said once;

I have nothing to say

and I am saying it

and that is poetry

as I need it

Keep in mind that Higher Education and especially Research in Higher Education is a difficult industry. Also December is a tough month for social media as there is Christmas at the end of it and people spend less time on social media and more with their families. Or they should.

Why we did a social media competition?

  • We wanted to see how many people are actually checking our facebook page when we don’t share the Academous’ posts through our personal facebook account(s).
  • We wanted to increase the number of our facebook account (@academous) followers.
  • We wanted to increase the number of our twitter account (@weareacademous) followers.


Terms and conditions of the competition

Since Academous is going to be deployed in the OECD and EU member countries, we decided to run a competition where:

  • We would publish a name of a Higher Education Institution every every Monday and Friday of the week at noon GMT and ask our followers to guess in which country it is.
  • We would choose a Higher Education Institution with an interesting name. (we were not affiliated with any of the HEIs which appeared during the competition).
  • The competition ran for 3 weeks; from December 4th till December 26th, when we announced the winner of the draw.
  • People would have 2-3 days to guess in which country the HEI is. Every guess, right or wrong, would enter the prize draw. One winner would get a limited edition 8GB usb stick with our logo on it. The usb stick was limited edition because each one is numbered and the number is engraved on it. And we did not make a lot of them. Probably not a big prize but as we said Research and Higher Education are difficult industries anyway.
  • If our followers were answering from different social media channels, that would still count still as one answer and one entry in the prize draw.

Pretty straightforward, huh? So this is what happened.

Facebook Results

It is said that posting images increases the chances for your post to be seen. That is true. But what about colours that are used in images? For our first day -Monday- of the competition we created a white background image with black letters; the post got 50 views. For our second day of the competition we created a black background image with white letters; the post got 56 views. That’s a 12% increase in views.

So for the posts to follow we kept the black background and white letters format. Here are the results; 3rd post -Monday- (74 views), 4th post -Friday- (106 views), 5th post -Monday- (72 views), 6th post  -Friday- (37 views), 7th post – Monday, Christmas Day- (50 views). So when we were right in the middle of the competition we reached our pick; 80% of our facebook followers checked our 4th post. That is an impressive number considering that users are bombarded with content when accessing social media.

We can assume that the number of views fell after a certain point as people are preparing for Christmas and they are on the road in order to spend Christmas with their families. The number of our facebook account followers was increased in December from 131 to 138 followers. The increase is NOT related to the competition but because we invited more people to like our page.

Still it is very encouraging that 80% of our followers on facebook check the Academous facebook page.

Twitter Results

Our competition hashtag, #findmyuni, never trended. And that’s OK. Actually we have never seen a hashtag for a competition trending. We have a small social media presence so we shouldn’t expect that.

Before we started the competition on twitter we had 161 followers. At the end of the competition, on the 26th of December we had 176 followers. That is a 10% increase and it was all organic.

In December our twitter account reached 11.7k impressions, compared to 4.5k impressions in November, and 5.6k impressions in October.


That is a 120% increase in impressions compared to November and 108% increase compared to the October impressions.

Simultaneously, there is a 147% increase in profile visits compared to November and 135% increase in profile visits compared to October. Of course we tweeted 50%  more in December compared to November and 80% more than we did in October.


twitter impressions december2november twitter impressions 2impressions october twitter 2

The boxes marked in red show the days that we posted the name of Universities for the competition. In total we increased the daily impressions by 110% compared to October and by 150% compared to November. What is interesting is the peak marked in green. No retweets are visible anymore concerning the two posts. Our guess is that the post was retweeted by an account that is now deactivated because it was a twitter bot(?).


  • If you want to increase your social media visibility, it is a good idea to design a social media competition.
  • As with all social media techniques, every social media platform works differently. So you need to design your competition accordingly. A lot of competitions on twitter ask the audience to retweet content. We didn’t. A lot of competitions on facebook ask their followers to like the page and share content. We didn’t. Also keep in mind that facebook is changing its algorithm in order to sink clickbait posts.
  • A QA competition is probably not a very engaging competition. People prefer the easy stuff. We don’t.
  • Choose the prize of the competition carefully. You need to give to your followers a gift that has a meaning for them.
  • As your social visibility increases in quantity, your conversion rate will probably decrease (less interactions to impressions or views ratio).
  • If you have a business idea and you are at an early stage it might be good to design a competition. More people will learn about your brand.
  • As with all social media techniques, don’t expect miracles. You should run a competition in social media but don’t forget to add other content in your social media accounts while running the competition.

Will we do it again? The answer is yes. Just be patient. Easter is coming.

ARWU 2003-2017. An Infographic

Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU) is a list of top Universities published every year since 2003 by ShanghaiRankings Consultancy. It is also one of the oldest if not the oldest Ranking tables for World’s top Universities.

We had a look at the 2003-2017 and we put together a nice infographic. Until 2016 ShanghaiRankings COnsultancy was listing the top 500 Universities in the World. In the latest tables the top 800 Universities are included. Although we do not consider ourselves experts in World Higher Education, it is obvious from the analysis that:

– Quality of Higher Education Institutions has improved over the years. Since 2003 the number of countries with at least 1 University appearing on the tables has increase gradually (from 39 in 2003 to 45 up to 2016 and to 56 in the 2017 tables).

– Some countries have seen the number of their Universities remaining more or less the same. For example there were 42 German Universities in the 2003 tables and 38 Universities in 2016 tables. UK Universities show a similar trend.

– Other countries have seen the number of their Universities declining. There were 38 Japanese Universities in the 2003 tables. In 2016 only 16 Universities from Japan were in the top 500 Universities.

– A few countries have seen the number of their Universities increasing. In 2003 Australia had 13 Universities in the top 500. In 2016 23 Australian Universities made it to the top 500 world Universities. Higher Education in China has seen major improvement since 2003. In 2003 ARWU tables only 8 Universities were included in the world’s top 500 Universities. In 2016 41 Chinese Universities made it to the top 500. In 2017 ARWU tables China is in 2nd place in terms of number of Universities, followed by UK and Germany.

– Since 2003 the percentage of Universities from the OECD member countries in the ARWU tables has been declining (from 93% in 2003 to 77% in 2017). BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa- have seen a gradual increase in the number of Universities ( from 4% in 2003 to 15% in 2017). Also more Universities from countries that are not in the OECD or BRICS made it to tables (from 2.6 % in 2003 to 7% in 2017). More Universities from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Thailand can be seen in the World’s top Universities of the last few years.

– The increase in the quality of Higher Education in Asia is also obvious from our final pie chart of our infographic. There are more Asian Universities in the latest ARWU rakings than Universities from North America. European Universities are still in the 1st place.

The increase in the number of Universities from China making it to the World’s top Universities has been highlighted before in our analysis-infographic of the World University rankings published by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and in our infographic-analysis of the World University Rankings published by Times Higher Education

new-piktochart_26911257 (10)

QS World University Rankings 2015-2018. An Infographic

We love data. And because we love data we are trying to make interesting infographics describing trends in global education. Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) is an independent organisation specialising in global education. Every year they publish the World University Rankings, a table with the best Universities in the world. We created an infographic that includes data from the latest table and also all the World University Rankings since 2015.

The trends show an increase in quality of higher education in Asia with an increase in the numbers of Universities from Japan and China. China is currently in the 6th place in terms of numbers of Universities appearing in the latest tables and has recently surpassed Australia. While China had only 27 Universities in the tables published in 2015, today there are 40 Chinese Universities in the latest World University Rankings. Japan follows the same trend and since 2014 Japanese Universities appearing in the tables have increased from 37 to 43.


2018 THEunirankings vs 2017 THEunirankings. An infographic comparison.

This week Times Higher Education published the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings with the top 1102 Universities in the world. We compared the 2017 and 2018 tables and we made this nice infographic. Enjoy!