U of A continues rapid rise in Times Higher Education global rankings

University now ranks among top six per cent of institutions included in the respected rankings, and moves up to fifth in Canada.


The U of A made significant gains in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, placing among the top six per cent of more than 1,900 universities included in the new rankings and moving up to fifth in Canada. (Photo: Richard Siemens)

The University of Alberta has continued its rise in one of the world’s most influential global rankings for the fourth straight year.

In the 2024 Times Higher Education World University Rankings released today, the U of A was tied for the rank of 109th in the world — up nine places from last year and 27 places since 2020. The U of A also placed fifth in Canada this year, after ranking sixth for 11 consecutive years.

“The University of Alberta continues to be one of Canada’s top-performing post-secondary institutions, and our global impact is increasing. THE now ranks us among the top six per cent of the more than 1,900 universities included in the new rankings, placing the University of Alberta among the top tier of the world’s great universities,” says U of A president Bill Flanagan. “We have ambitious goals for the future — in Shape: A Strategic Plan of Impact we outlined our aim to rank among the top 50 in the world and the top three in Canada within the next decade. These results show important progress towards that goal.”

Industry partnerships, research funding boost performance

The U of A made another phenomenal jump in the industry category, ranking 29th in the world after coming in at 100th last year and 229th the previous year. This ranking, which had been based on the amount of income generated from industry, also included a new measure this year based on how often a university’s research is cited in patents.

Although the industry area has the lowest weighting in the THE rankings, it is a significant indicator of impact because it is based on an institution’s ability to help spur innovation in industry.

The U of A’s partnerships with industry leverage expertise and support commercialization in critical areas that benefit people in Alberta and beyond, from matching health technology companies with U of A experts and equipment, to working toward building an innovative biojet fuel production facility in the Edmonton area.

In addition, the university has created more than 100 startup companies over the past 20 years — 94 of which remain active — and continues to create four to five new startups each year, along with licensing dozens of technologies.

The university also improved its ranking in the research environment category, moving up 13 places to finish 109th this year. Rankings in this category are based on indicators of research productivity, reputation and income.

In 2022, the U of A attracted a record $620 million in external research funding across all faculties and areas of research, including the social sciences and humanities, natural and applied sciences, and health sciences.

“This is an increase of 12 per cent over the last two years, and our strategic plan calls for increasing our research revenue even further,” says Flanagan, noting that the plan sets a goal of $650 million in annual research revenues by 2028. “Our college structure, which opens up more interdisciplinary teaching and research opportunities, is at the heart of achieving this goal.”

Trending upward

The new Times Higher Education results are the latest in a trend of strong showings for the U of A in global rankings this year. 

Last month, the university placed 91st in the world and fourth in Canada in the Academic Ranking of World Universities — its best performance in the 20-year history of the respected rankings.

In June, the university was ranked seventh in the world and second in Canada in Times Higher Education’s 2023 Impact Rankings, which assess post-secondary institutions’ performance toward achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

And in March, the 2023 QS World University Rankings by Subject rated the U of A as the best place in Canada to study nursing and petroleum engineering, with 18 subjects ranking among the top 100 in the world.

Times Higher Education has ranked universities worldwide since 2004. This year the organization used an updated methodology to analyze a record 1,904 institutions, taking into account five key areas: teaching, research environment, research quality, international outlook and industry.