International Rankings Universities


The Netherlands is one of the few countries where nearly all universities are listed in international rankings. Most rankings put the emphasis on research. However, some also include teaching performance (e.g. the QS Rankings), or are based on reputation (e.g. the THE World Reputation Ranking).
This page gives an overview of the performance of Dutch universities in certain rankings and the position of the Netherlands in general. This is done on the basis of the four most used rankings in the world:
•    the ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities’ (ARWU)
•    the ‘Times Higher Education (THE) World Ranking and Reputation Ranking’
•    the ‘QS World University Rankings’
•    the ‘Leiden Ranking’; impact and collaboration



Dutch universities are among the world's best
Dutch universities are among the world's best 2%1. The Netherlands therefore scores high in rankings as a country. It is in the top 10 of both the ARWU and the THE World Ranking.
This positioning is exceptional, as the organisation of the Dutch higher education system has a number of aspects that form barriers to achieving a high ranking (the top 50). Highly ranked universities only admit the best students in limited numbers to their programme, and generally only provide teaching in the Master's phase. They also have extensive financial resources. By way of illustration: the net assets of, for example, Harvard University, are over eight times as high compared to the budget of all the Dutch universities together.

The starting position of Dutch universities is different from that of universities at the absolute top. As opposed to many universities from the top 50, these are public institutions that all perform the same social function and are all funded according to the same principles. Dutch universities educate large numbers of students in both Bachelor's and Master's programmes and focus on a broad range of research topics.
Given the social function of Dutch universities and the conservative financing for education and research, the universities perform at an excellent level.


Click on the infographic for a larger view.

Rankings offer a limited view on universities
A ranking gives an incomplete picture of reality. The strength of higher education institutions specifically lies in their mutual diversity. The pitfall of rankings is that they outline a global imag,e giving (too) little justice to the complexity of what is being measured. An external benchmark can nevertheless be a valuable instrument. However, it is important to realise that no ranking system is entirely objective, as the ultimate ranking is the result of the many subjective choices of the creators of the list.


Please click here for a blog of CWTS on the responsible use of rankings.
Please click here for a factsheet from Rathenau about the possibilities and limitation of rankings.


1 According to the report ‘Global University Rankings and their Impact’ (2013) of the European Association of Universities, there are more than 17,000 universities in the world. In order to be among the best 2%, a university has to be among the top 340. All the Dutch universities, with the exception of the Open University, comply with this.