Success in university rankings
In most global university rankings, the University of Helsinki ranks in the top 50–100, or the top 0.5 percentile. This page showcases the University’s success in both overall and field-specific rankings. At the end, we describe how different rankings are calculated.
Among the best in the world

Depending on the method of calculation used, there are approximately 18,000–23,000 universities in the world. On average, the University of Helsinki ranks among the top 100 universities globally, or the top 0.5 percentile.

Europe

There are approximately 4,000 universities in Europe. On average, the University of Helsinki ranks among the top 30 European universities, or the top percentile.

Nordic countries

Only a handful of Nordic universities are ranked among the global top 100. On average, the University of Helsinki ranks among the top four Nordic universities.

Best in Finland

Finland has 14 universities, of which the University of Helsinki is ranked the best in all key general rankings.

High impact in sustainable development

The THE University Impact Rankings assess how well universities are promoting sustainable development through their operations and carrying out their third mission, public engagement. The rankings are based on the Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN in 2016.

In 2020 the University of Helsinki was placed 80th in the world in the THE University Impact Rankings. The University of Helsinki was the most successful in the following individual indicators used in the rankings:

  • Climate action: 6th
  • Sustainable cities and communities: 35th

University of Helsinki in the THE University Impact Rankings

Discipline-specific ranking results

Discipline-specific rankings provide comparative information on the operations and reputation of universities in certain disciplines. If you wish to compare the quality of research at various universities in a certain discipline, such as atmospheric sciences or chemistry, a discipline-specific ranking may be a useful tool.

What information can be gained from discipline-specific rankings, and what cannot?

The classifications of disciplines used in the rankings are based on the groupings used by international scientific journals.

Discipline-specific citation numbers are calculated on the basis of the scientific journal where the article has been published. The faculty or unit within the university in question where the scholar works does not affect the ranking.

Discipline-specific rankings cannot be used to rate disciplines in order of excellence within a university.

This is because the number of researchers varies by discipline, and individual research areas are not pursued equally extensively by all universities in the world. Moreover, the faculties and discipline classifications of universities do not necessarily correspond to the groupings used in rankings.

The University of Helsinki's discipline-specific ranking results

What do university rankings measure: Shanghai, QS, THE, NTU and U.S. News

There are roughly a dozen global general rankings, alongside which there are a number of global specific rankings. All rankings utilise different datasets and computational models. Below, we describe the indicators used by the five rankings which we monitor closely.

All rankings measure the amount of citations by other scholars to universities’ research publications. Citations are collected into various research databases.

In databases, research in the humanities and social sciences as well as research in languages other than English are underrepresented. Regardless, citations are a strong point for the University of Helsinki in all rankings.

The ShanghaiRanking, or the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), puts emphasis on the most successful researchers and the best-known publications.

ARWU is a fairly stable ranking, with the placement of individual universities fluctuating relatively little. In this ranking, the University of Helsinki has fared the best in the citation indexes and the ranking of highly cited researchers, while its poorest success has come in the indicators for Nobel Laureates and Fields Medalists.

There are also regional and discipline-specific rankings under ARWU.

ARWU, which is published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, was first released in 2003.

Ranking indicators and their impact on the overall ranking of universities

30%: Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals

The reputation indicator of ARWU comprises two categories:

  • 20%: Institution where the recipient worked at the time of winning the award
  • 10%: Institution where the recipient has studied

The University of Helsinki is awarded points for

  • The Nobel Prize awarded to A. I. Virtanen
  • The Fields Medal awarded to Lars Ahlfors
  • The bachelor’s degree completed by Bengt Holmström at the University of Helsinki

The award indicators represent universities’ historical reputation and recognition. They are also meant to compensate for the fact that the ShanghaiRanking does not include a separate survey on university reputation.

20%: Research citations

ARWU uses the reference index of the Clarivate Analytics Web of Science database for ranking citations.

20%: Highly cited researchers

ARWU uses the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list to rank researchers with the most citations by fellow researchers. The list includes the most highly cited percentile from 22 different fields of science.

The list of highly cited researchers is in constant flux. If a researcher transfers to another university, they take the points awarded to them with them.

20%: Number of publications in Nature and Science

Nature and Science are among the world’s foremost scientific journals in the natural sciences and medicine.

10%: All of the above indicators weighted by the number of researchers and teachers

The purpose of this indicator is to even out the impact of differences in size among universities. This criterion also assumes that each teacher conducts research of as high a standard as possible.

Read more about the ShanghaiRanking methodology

You can read in more detail about the methodology used in this ranking on the ShanghaiRanking website.

The QS World University Rankings emphasise university reputation more than the other significant university rankings.

The QS World University Rankings are published by Quacquarelli Symonds, a commercial organisation. In their current form, the rankings were published for the first time in 2010.

Ranking indicators and their impact on the overall ranking of universities

50%: Reputation

Researchers of other universities and employers are asked about their opinions on universities in reputation surveys.

The reputation indicator of the QS rankings comprises two categories:

  • 40%: University reputation based on surveys conducted among researchers
  • 10%: University reputation based on surveys conducted among employers
20%: Ratio of citations compared to the number of researchers and teachers

The QS rankings use Elsevier’s Scopus as their citation database.

In 2015 the methodology and scoring of the QS rankings were changed in a way that made them less favourable to the University of Helsinki.

20%: Student/teacher ratio

This indicator is used to measure the quality of teaching.

The University of Helsinki has more students than, for example, many American top universities, regardless of which it fares relatively well in terms of this particular indicator.

10%: Internationalisation

The internationalisation indicator of the QS rankings comprises two categories:

  • 5%: Ratio of international staff
  • 5%: Ratio of international students

Read more about the QS World University Rankings methodology

You can read in more detail about the methodology used in this ranking on the QS World University Rankings website.

Times Higher Education (THE) bases its rankings on a diverse set of indicators.

THE's rankings are published by the Times Higher Education magazine. In their current form, the rankings have been published since 2010.

Ranking indicators and their impact on the overall ranking of universities

30%: Teaching

The teaching indicator of THE comprises five categories:

  • 15%: University reputation based on surveys conducted among researchers
  • 6%: Ratio of doctoral degrees to researchers and teachers
  • 4.5%: Ratio of academic staff to students
  • 2.25%: Ratio of doctoral degrees to bachelor’s degrees
  • 2.25%: Ratio of institutional income to researchers and teachers
30%: Research

The research indicator of THE comprises three categories:

  • 18%: Research reputation based on surveys conducted among researchers
  • 6%: Ratio of publications to researchers and teachers
  • 6%: Ratio of research funding to researchers and teachers
30%: Research citations

THE's rankings use Elsevier’s Scopus as its citation database.

In 2015 THE changed its citation database, which had a favourable effect on the University of Helsinki’s ranking. In the Scopus database, the humanities and social sciences are slightly more prominent than in the Web of Science database of Clarivate Analytics.

7.5%: Internationalisation

The internationalisation indicator of THE comprises three categories:

  • 2.5%: Ratio of international students
  • 2.5%: Ratio of international researchers and teachers
  • 2.5%: International co-authored publications
2.5%: Ratio of income from businesses to researchers and teachers

The ratio of the research income of universities from the private sector to academic staff. In this category, universities specialised in engineering sciences, economics and medicine fare better than multidisciplinary universities such as the University of Helsinki.

Read more about the THE World University Rankings methodology

You can read in more detail about the methodology used in this ranking on the THE World University Rankings website.

NTU Ranking is based solely on bibliometric research indicators, or a range of ways used to calculate the number of scientific publications and their impact.

The strength of the ranking lies in its diverse array of indicators, which is why it is particularly well suited to ranking research-intensive universities. Due to the diversity of its indicators, some of which focus on the long term, the ranking is fairly stable.

In NTU Ranking, the University of Helsinki is the most successful in terms of the number of citations in the last 11 years and the h-index. The University of Helsinki’s placement is poorest in terms of the average numbers of citations in the last 11 years.

The ranking is published by National Taiwan University. It was first released in 2007.

Ranking indicators and their impact on the overall ranking of universities

45%: Research citations

The citation indicator of NTU Ranking comprises four categories:

  • 15%: Number of citations in the last 11 years
  • 10%: Number of citations in the last two years
  • 10%: Average number of citations in the last 11 years
  • 10%: H-index in the last two years

The h-index is an indicator aimed at simultaneously assessing the publishing productivity of researchers and the impact of their publications. The h-index is database-specific, which means that the h-index of individual researchers can vary by database.

25%: Number of research articles

The article indicator of NTU Ranking comprises two categories:

  • 15%: Number of articles in the current year
  • 10%: Number of articles in the last 11 years
15%: Highly cited articles

NTU Ranking ranks highly cited articles on the basis of Clarivate Analytics’ Essential Science Indicators database, compiling roughly 11,500 key publications from different fields.

The ranking of highly cited articles presents the most highly cited percentile of articles in the last 11 years.

15%: Number of articles in the current year in high-impact journals

The ranking is based on the number of articles published in the current year in high-impact journals.

Publication impact is assessed using Clarivate Analytics’ Journal Citation Reports tool provided by InCites, which compares the number of articles’ citations and the number of articles in journals.

The impact of publications ranked in the top 5% in their field is considered significant.

Read more about the NTU Ranking methodology

You can read in more detail about the methodology used by this ranking on the NTU Ranking website.

The U.S. News Best Global Universities rankings emphasise indicators related to the number and impact of scientific publications, while also taking into consideration reputation and international collaboration.

The U.S. News rankings are the newest of the important global rankings. They were first published in 2014.

Ranking indicators and their impact on the overall ranking of universities

50%: Research citations

The citation indicator of the U.S. News rankings comprises six categories:

  • 12.5%: Number of publications among the 10% most cited
  • 10%: Ratio of total publications among the 10% most cited
  • 10%: Field-normalised citation impact
  • 7.5%: Field-normalised total citations
  • 5%: Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1% most cited in their respective field
  • 5%: Percentage of total publications that are among the top 1% most highly cited papers
25%: Reputation

The reputation indicator of the U.S. News rankings comprises two categories:

  • 12.5%: Global research reputation
  • 12.5%: Regional research reputation
15%: Number of publications

The publication indicator of the U.S. News rankings comprises three categories:

  • 10%: Articles
  • 2.5%: Books
  • 2.5%: Conference publications
10%: International collaboration

The international collaboration indicator of the U.S. News rankings comprises two categories:

  • 5%: Ratio of internationally co-authored publications to all publications by the university
  • 5%: Ratio of internationally co-authored publications to all internationally co-authored publications globally

Read more about the U.S. News rankings methodology

You can read in more detail about the methodology used in this ranking on the U.S. News Best Global Universities website.

Further information on university rankings
  • Recipe for a ranking Yliopisto magazine, 8/2017 An interview-based article that is still topical
  • The University of Helsinki’s annual reviews include a great deal of additional information on the University’s ranking placements.
  • The contact person at the University in all ranking-related matters is Markku Javanainen.
Also read