UAlberta jumps to 31st in Times Higher Education's new 'most international' rankings

    Campus diversity, global partnerships contribute to 79-place rise in worldwide ranking.

    By Michael Brown on February 1, 2017

    It is only fitting that during International Week festivities, the University of Alberta secured its best ever ranking when stacked up against the world’s most international universities.

    The University of Alberta jumped an astonishing 79 places to land as the 31st most international university for 2017 according to Times Higher Education.


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    “I am delighted to see that the university’s commitment to global engagement and internationalization is recognized in this way,” said Britta Baron, U of A vice-provost and associate vice-president (international). “We have a strong and comprehensive international unit that, through work and engagement with faculties, has built a sound track record for international efforts including study abroad, recruitment, a certificate in international learning and well-founded global partnerships."

    The U of A’s international strategy over the last year included deepening ties with many longstanding partner nations.

    While making his first official visit to China as U of A president, David Turpin signed a new student exchange agreement with Shanghai Jiaotong University, the U of A’s ninth such agreement. He also finalized a number of research partnerships, including the Sino-Canadian Energy and Environment Research and Education Initiative, which will host more than 30 joint research projects; an advanced scientific research centre in partnership with Shanghai Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park; and a collaboration with China Electronic Technology Group Corporation to create intelligent transportation systems.

    In November, the university announced it had opened a new office in Mexico City, giving the university a street-level presence that will help build on an agreement between the university and the Mexican government to form a $16-million long-term research partnership in that country’s growing hydrocarbon sector.

    The ranking is drawn largely from the “international outlook” pillar of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-17, which covers international staff, students and co-authors. However, it also includes a measure of a university's international reputation, taken from THE’s annual academic reputation survey.

    It was the international reputation component that, according to a Times Higher Education spokesperson, "knocked a lot of usual suspects in the powerhouse cluster down or out of the ranking."

    The last decade has brought large gains in the university’s international student population, which now makes up nearly 17 per cent of undergraduate and almost 39 per cent of graduate students, the latter being among the highest percentages of any university in Canada.

    On the faculty front, more than 60 per cent of new hires are from abroad, which has brought the total percentage of international professors to more than 40 per cent.

    The U of A finished behind only the University of British Columbia (12) and McGill (23) for tops in Canada. Notable schools finishing behind the U of A include the University of Toronto (32), Harvard (33), Stanford (36) and Princeton (37).

    The top two universities on the list are located in Switzerland; the third was the University of Hong Kong.

    This result comes on the heels of a top five placement for the U of A in the Maclean’s ranking of top Canadian universities and a 94th-place showing in the 2016-17 QS World University Rankings. The QS ranking, which puts a heavy emphasis on reputation, also placed the U of A in the top five nationally.