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SNU Takes 37th Place in the QS World University Rankings

  • October 17, 2012
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On September 11, QS announced that SNU took the 37th place in the QS World University Rankings this year. The QS World University Rankings, published annually by a British company called Quacquarelli Symonds, has been recognized as one of the most influential rankings of the world’s top universities since its first publication in 2004.

SNU’s 37th place this year is its highest so far. Last year, SNU was ranked 42nd, which means that it moved up 5 slots just this past year. Ranked close to SNU in and near the top 30 are some of the most prestigious universities in the world, such as the University of Tokyo (30), University of California, Los Angeles (31), and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (33). Other Korean universities in the top 100 are KAIST (63), and POSTECH (97). (Table 1) In subject rankings, SNU moved up from 35th to 27th place in Natural Sciences, the highest this year, followed by Social Sciences and Management, in which SNU was ranked 29th four slots higher than last year. An SNU official stated that the school views its rise in the rankings as a result of its efforts to become a world-leading university.

Table 1: 2012 QS World University Rankings 2012/2013

2012 QS World University Rankings 2012/2013
Rank University
2 University of Cambridge
3 Harvard University
4 UCL (University College London)
5 University of Oxford
23 University of Hong Kong
25 National University of Singapore
30 The University of Tokyo
32 The University of Manchester
33 The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
34 École Normale Supérieure, Paris
35 Kyoto University
36 The University of Melbourne
37 Seoul National University
38 University of Wisconsin-Madison
39 The University of Sydney
44 Peking University
63 KAIST- Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
97 POSTECH- Pohang University of Science And Technology

The QS Rankings evaluates universities by summing up results from 6 criteria with different weights: academic reputation – 40%, citations per faculty member – 20%, faculty-student ratio – 20%, employer reputation – 10%, international faculty ratio – 5%, and international student ratio – 5%. SNU was ranked 29th in academic reputation, indicating that SNU is widely perceived as one of the best universities among academics. SNU saw great improvements in the employer reputation section as well. The employer reputation section is based on the results of online surveys sent to businesspeople, asking which university students they prefer to hire.

According to SNU officials, it was mainly the professors’ active academic work and the graduates’ great performances in the private sector that boosted the ranking. However, SNU’s score on citations per faculty member, which measures how often the school’s research papers are cited by other scholars in academia, still has a long way to go compared to other top universities. One of the aspects that SNU wants to improve in order to gain a higher position in the rankings is to attract more international faculty and students. SNU officials commented that the school will continue its efforts to enhance the quality of research and globalize its community.

This year SNU is launching “the world-leading, research-centered university project,” which will include attracting the world’s best known scholars and promising young professors, funding hopeful researchers, and training first-class global leaders in order to build up global infrastructures for fruitful research projects. SNU has clearly seen a lot of improvements over the years, as seen in how it rose 81 slots in the past 8 years in the rankings, and is planning to continue its ascent. (Table 2)

Table 2: SNU’s QS Rankings from 2004 to 2012

SNU’s QS Rankings from 2004 to 2012
Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Rank 118 93 63 51 50 47 50 42 37

Written by LEE Sukyoung, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Eli Park Sorensen, SNU Professor of Liberal Studies,
Proofread by Brett Johnson, SNU English Editor,

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