U of A has best-ever showing in prominent ranking of world’s top institutions

Strength in research and learning boosts university to top 100 for first time in Academic Ranking of World Universities.


The U of A rose to 92nd in the world in the 2022 Academic Ranking of World Universities, placing among the world’s top 100 for the first time in the 20-year history of the ranking. (Photo: Richard Siemens)

The University of Alberta has made its strongest showing in the ShanghaiRankings Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) since the ranking’s inception in 2003, with the university placing 92nd in the world and fifth in Canada. This is the first time the U of A has placed within the top 100 in the respected global ranking.

This follows the U of A’s steady performance in previous years of the ranking, typically placing fifth or sixth nationally and within the top 150 in the world. For the 2022 ARWU rankings, more than 2,500 institutions were ranked, with Harvard, Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology comprising the top three.

Exceptional faculty, influential research

“I’m so proud of the U of A community for achieving this highest-ever ARWU ranking, reflecting our global leadership in multiple disciplines. This historic move into the top 100 is further affirmation of our exceptional teaching and renowned research expertise,” says U of A president Bill Flanagan. 

The ARWU ranking considers several criteria including quality of faculty, which accounts for 40 per cent of the overall ranking score and is measured by two equally weighted indicators. The first indicator is the number of researchers who have won a Nobel Prize in chemistry, physics, medicine or economics, or a Fields Medal in mathematics. Virologist Michael Houghton’s Nobel Prize win in 2020 first boosted the U of A’s performance in this indicator for 2021.

“Michael Houghton’s Nobel Prize in Medicine is an incredible example of the quality and reach of our research and learning environment, highlighting the role we are playing on a global stage,” adds Flanagan. 

The second indicator within the quality of faculty criteria is the number of researchers who appear on analytics company Clarivate’s annual Highly Cited Researchers list. The U of A’s 12-spot jump from its 2021 ranking is partly due to stronger scores in this indicator. ARWU pulled data from Clarivate’s 2021 list, which identified 6,602 researchers as leaders in their fields.

The U of A saw a slight bump in the research output indicator, based on the number of Nature and Science publications over the previous five years and the number of papers indexed in the Science Citation Index Expanded and the Social Citation Index in the previous year.

The remaining criteria ARWU considers are quality of education, measured by the number of alumni who have won the Nobel Prize or Fields Medal, and per capita performance, based on the weighted scores of the other five indicators divided by the number of full-time equivalent academic staff. Both are weighted at 10 per cent. 

Upward trend

The best-ever showing in the 2022 ARWU rankings follows strong performances by the U of A in other institutional rankings this year. It placed 113th in the world in the Rankometer 2022 World University Rankings, an aggregate ranking of five prominent university rankings, including the ARWU. 

The university jumped 16 places to rank among the top eight per cent in the world in the 2023 QS World University Rankings, and had a record showing in the Center for World University Rankings World University Rankings 2022-23, in which the institution came in at 77th internationally. 

The U of A also moved up to 11th in the world — up from 64th the previous year — in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings of universities based on their efforts toward achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2022, released in July, highlighted subject-specific areas of strength at the U of A. Nursing and agricultural sciences remained consistently strong, ranking second in Canada for the fourth year running and third in Canada for the sixth consecutive year, respectively. The U of A also ranked best in Canada for business administration, environmental sciences and engineering, and instruments science and technology.