Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

AU in the world rankings

A number of internationally recognised world rankings evaluate the world’s universities in relation to each other. Aarhus University ranks among the top 100 universities in the world on several of these – out of over 17,000 universities worldwide - and is among the top 25 universities in the EU. 

AU stands out in particular in terms of research quality and the quality of degree programmes. Regarding internationalization AU is ranked in the top as well as no. 45 on THE’s ranking “Most International Universities in the World”.

Aarhus University is particularly focussed on six of the leading world rankings. This focus is a result of the transparency and continuity of these rankings’ methods as well as their relevant indicators.

The rankings consider parameters including the quality of research, the quality of the degree programmes and the reputation of the universities. The indicators and methods used by the different rankings vary. How the rankings differ specifically from each other can be seen in the the box The Methods of the world rankings.  

AU's current positions on the six world rankings

SHANGHAI 71 11 2
LEIDEN 128 25 3
NTU 93 19 2
QS 155 32 3
THE 104 23 2
US NEWS 103 23 2

AU’s position on the world rankings 2012-2021

2021 71 128 93 155 104 103
2020 69 110 87 147 106 105
2019 60 108 89 145 115 108
2018 65 111 89 141 123 106
2017 65 101 88 119 109 95
2016 65 97 86 117 98 108
2015 73 81 88 107 106 127
2014 74 68 87 96 153 -
2013 81 77 86 91 138 -
2012 86 72 82 89 116 -

The methods of the world rankings

The methods of the world rankings differ, and some of the rankings adjust their approach from time to time. This means that a university’s ranking can vary from one year to the next without reflecting any real changes in the university’s activities.  


This ranking uses a stable method that is not altered from one year to the next.

The ranking is based solely on research-related indicators, for example publication data from the health sciences, natural sciences and social sciences. It does not include data from the humanities, as this would favour universities in English-speaking countries.

The ranking measures based on six indicators:

·       Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals awarded to alumni (10%)

·       Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals awarded to employees (20%)

·       Researchers with numerous citations in twenty-one broadly defined subject areas

·       Articles published in Nature and Science (20%)

·       Publication data from Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index (20%)

·       Performance measured according to indicators above per staff researcher (10%)


The Leiden University ranking is not a traditional ranking, but instead a calculation of the influence of research (impact), as it primarily focuses on the universities’ publications.

This ranking is interesting as it isolates publication frequency within the research fields a given university is focused on. At the same time, it is based on several years of data extractions and takes the size of the universities and differences in citations patterns across fields into account.


The NTU world ranking measures universities’ current research force and focuses solely on research articles. The advantage of this ranking is that it uses relatively new publication data.

The ranking is based on eight indicators:

  • Number of articles in the past eleven years (10%)
  • Number of articles in the past year (15%)
  • Number of citations in the past eleven years (15 %)
  • Number of citations in the past two years (10%)
  • Average number of citations in the past eleven years (10%)
  • H-index for the past two years (10%)
  • Number of highly cited papers (15%)
  • Number of articles in high-impact journals in the past two years (15%)


The QS world ranking primarily measures the universities on the basis of their reputation among researchers and employers, number of citations and internationalisation.

QS measures based on six indicators:

  • External researchers’ assessment of the university’s research (questionnaire among researchers) (40%)
  • Number of citations in scientific journals (20%)
  • Number of students per researcher (the fewer, the better) (20%)
  • Employers’ assessment of graduates from the university (questionnaire) (10%)
  • Number of international students (5%)
  • Number of international researchers (5%)


The THE ranking measures both research, teaching and knowledge transfer.

Up until 2009, Times Higher published the THE-QS-ranking in collaboration with the company QS. As of 2010, they are published as two separate world rankings.

The THE ranking measures based on 13 indicators divided into five groups:

  • International Outlook (number of international students and researchers, as well as number of articles written in collaboration with foreign partners) (7.5%)
  • Research (five indicators, including a questionnaire among researchers) (30%)
  • Citations (average number of citations per article) (30%)
  • Industry Income (calculated per researcher) (2.5%)
  • Teaching (five indicators, including a questionnaire among researchers) (30%)

US News

The US News ranking is attracting a lot of attention in the United States. It is primarily based on indicators related to research.

The ranking measures based on 13 indicators:

  • Global reputation of research (12.5%)
  • Regional reputation of research (12.5%)
  • Publications (10%)
  • Books (2.5%)
  • Conferences (2.5%)
  • Normalised citation impact (10 %)
  • Total number of citations (7.5%)
  • Number of top ten per cent publications (12.5%)
  • Share of top ten percent publications (10%)
  • International collaboration (5%)
  • Share of publications with international collaboration (5%)
  • Number of highly cited publications that are among the top one per cent most cited within their field (5%)
  • Number of publications that are among the top one per cent most cited (5%)