UC Berkeley ranked as one of world’s best research institutions

UC Berkeley ranked 10th as one of the best research institutions in the world, according to theTimes Higher Education World University Rankings 2011-2012 annual report published Thursday.

For the second year in a row UC Berkeley has earned a ranking in the top 10. However, this placement represents a decline from last year‘s ranking, which put the campus at eighth place. Other UC campuses’  ratings have decreased slightly as well, including UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara, which ranked 32nd and 29th last year, respectively, but are now at 33rd and 35th on the list.

“A lot of the California universities have slipped,” said Times Higher Education deputy editor Phil Baty. “Berkeley has gone down in a few places.  We’ve seen some of the other California and state institutions falling and I do think it may be the beginning of the signs of the budget cuts starting to bite.”

Seventy-five institutions in the United States made the top 400 list of the best institutions. This year the number one ranking, which was previously held by Harvard University, has been claimed by the California Institute of Technology. Harvard and Stanford universities tied for second place.

“Rankings are important to help people compare higher education institutions,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email. “We know that any organization’s methodology may change from year to year, but that by any measure it’s clear that UC Berkeley is the nation’s top public university and among the top universities in the world, public or private.”

This is the eighth year that the London-based organization has published world rankings of universities. In 2010, a new methodology was employed that allowed professors from various institutions to select any two campuses other than their own as top ranking universities. Once all the information is collected it is divided into 13 performance indicators and grouped into five categories: teaching, research, citations, industry income and international outlook.

The data indicates that UC Berkeley excels in the arts and humanities, as well as science, and although it is possible that the shifting rankings may reflect the financial pressure the universities are facing. However, UC Berkeley’s score for citation research is one of the highest in the world at 99.4 percent, which is significant because it shows which universities are contributing the most and pushing forward the boundaries of human knowledge, Baty said.

“It’s a cause for fantastic celebration,” he said. “But what I would say is that the message should go out to the state government that you have some of the world’s very, very best universities. They need to be protected. They need to be nurtured. Lots of nations are pumping billions of dollars into their higher education system and to protect these tremendous assets we need to keep the investment levels up.”