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Professor Santa J. Ono
March 6, 2020
2 mins read

UBC: Among the best in the world

The prestigious QS World University Subject Rankings have been released and I’m proud to say that the University of British Columbia has shown a remarkable upward trajectory in the rankings over the past three years.

This upward trajectory—which has resulted in UBC placing in the top 25 universities globally in 13 subjects and in the top 50 in 36 subject areas in the QS rankings—comes at a time when many North American universities have been losing ground in international rankings.

Our results are thanks to the hard work, talent, and dedication of our research and teaching faculty, students, administrators, and staff. This success would not have been possible without the investments made in UBC by government, and support from donors, alumni, and friends of the university.

Over the past three years, we’ve moved up in the QS rankings in several areas. For example, we’ve risen from 34th to 25th in Computer Science, from 70th to 32nd in Engineering & Technology, from 35th to 24th in the Arts & Humanities, from 18th to 9th in Education, and 42nd to 25th in Natural Sciences to take just a few examples. (A full list of all the areas in which UBC has improved is not possible because of changing criteria and categorization by QS over the past few years).

QS (Quacquarelli Symond) World University Rankings is one of the most respected university rankings in the world, along with Times Higher Education (THE) and the ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities).

To produce the rankings, QS weighed academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper, and H-index, which is based on the set of the academic’s most cited papers and the number of citations that they have received in other publications.

The full QS rankings are available here. They are broken down into five broad subject areas, and then into 48 specific subjects.

UBC placed in the top three in Canada and among the best in the world in all five broad categories (last year’s rankings are in brackets):

  • Arts & Humanities: 24 (25)

  • Engineering & Technology: 32 (28)

  • Life Sciences & Medicine: 28 (30)
  • Natural Sciences: 25 (24)
  • Social Sciences & Management: 21 (24)

In individual subjects, we placed in the top 20 worldwide in the following subjects this year:

  • Agriculture & Forestry: 14
  • Anatomy & Physiology: 15
  • Earth & Marine Sciences: 17
  • Education: 9
  • Engineering – Mineral & Mining: 9
  • English Language & Literature: 17
  • Environmental Sciences: 11
  • Geography: 7
  • Library & Information Management: 1
  • Linguistics: 19
  • Pharmacy & Pharmacology: 18
  • Psychology: 13
  • Sports-related Subjects: 2

It’s not only in the QS rankings that UBC does well. All three of the major ranking bodies consistently place UBC among the best universities in the world.

In the Times Higher Education (THE) rankings, for example, we placed 34th in the world (2nd in Canada) and 19th among public universities in the most recent survey. THE also ranked us as the most international university in North America and among the top three universities in the world for making a global impact. (Read more about UBC’s rankings here.)

The fountain at the Martha Piper Plaza at UBC
Photo credit: Don Erhardt / UBC Brand & Marketing

Rankings are of course open to interpretation and are to some extent arbitrary and subjective. Even so, our consistent placement among the top universities in the world in all three rankings shows that the University of British Columbia is one of the world’s great universities.

I’m proud of UBC. I hope you are too.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor