The University of Tartu achieves a new record in the world rankings

According to one of the most important higher education lists, the QS World University Rankings, the University of Tartu now holds its best global position ever.

The university’s position in the rankings has improved from 501 in 2012 to 285 for the 2020/2021 academic year, its highest ever and sixteen places higher than last year.

In the process of preparing the ranking list, Quacquarelli Symonds – an international company specialising in the analysis of higher education institutions around the world – uses six indicators: the academic and employer reputation of the university, the faculty-to-student ratio, the impact of published work, citations per academic staff member and the ratio of international students and international staff.

The University of Tartu’s reputation among academic staff has improved particularly significantly, according to QS. For the third year in a row, the university has also improved its result in the ratio of international staff and students. Currently, there are three programmes available fully in English: business administration, science and technology and medicine.

Aiming the global 100

“The guiding principle of the university’s strategic plan for the next period is to move closer to the world’s 100 best universities,” Kristjan Vassil, the vice rector for research at the University of Tartu, said in a statement. “We are currently improving our position in the international rankings by 20 places on average yearly, but we can perceive that each rise is more difficult to achieve than the previous one.”

Vassil added the university had achieved “excellent international visibility without compromising its role as Estonia’s national university” – developing science, higher education and culture in the Estonian language and offering evidence-based support for governance to the state and society.

A group of students in front of the University of Tartu main building. Photo by Andres Tennus/the University of Tartu.

Founded in 1632 by the Swedish King, Gustav II Adolph, the University of Tartu is the oldest and largest university in Estonia both in terms of numbers of staff and students, and the volume of its teaching, research and development activities. Most of the university is located in Tartu, the second biggest town in Estonia; however, it also has colleges in Pärnu, Viljandi and Narva.

Three Estonian universities in the global 1,000

Two more Estonian universities are ranked – Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) is ranked in 651-700 (a fall by 50 positions compared with the previous year) and Tallinn University in the 801-1,000 bracket.

For the ranking, QS analysed 1,620 universities and ranked 1,002 of them. The top five universities are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology (all US) and the University of Oxford (UK).

There are approximately 25,000 universities in the world.

Cover: The main building of the University of Tartu in the namesake Estonian town. Photo by Kaupo Kalda.

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