The University of Tartu among the 300 best universities in the world

The University of Tartu has achieved its best-ever ranking in this year’s Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The oldest and largest university in Estonia shares the 251–300th position in the World University Rankings 2021, compiled by the British journal, Times Higher Education, since 2004. The ranking considers 13 performance indicators that are grouped into five areas: the learning environment, research, research influence, industry income and international outlook.

Just four years ago, the University of Tartu shared the 351-400th position in the ranking. The university’s strategic plan is to move closer to the world’s 100 best universities – currently, its position in the international rankings is improving by 20 places on average yearly. “Keeping this rate shows we have achieved excellent international visibility without compromising our role as Estonia’s national university – in developing science, higher education and culture in Estonian and offering evidence-based support for governance to our state and society,” Kristjan Vassil, the university’s vice rector for research, said in a statement.

International university

The University of Tartu, in Estonia’s second largest town, was founded by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1632. In 1919, it became the first university in the country to re-introduce teaching in Estonian. Today, the university has become very international – several of its courses are taught in English and international students, attended from 70 different countries, comprise approximately 10% of its enrolment. The university collaborates with over 70 international universities in 27 countries.

The University of Tartu comprises faculties of Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Medicine and Science and Technology. It offers 60 bachelor programmes, 72 at master’s level and 34 PhDs. It is also the only university in Estonia licensed to teach medicine.

University of Tartu Physics Building in Tartu. Photo by the University of Tartu.

The university’s alumni make up 40 per cent of Estonia’s parliament, 87 per cent of the country’s attorneys, 100 per cent of its judges, and 99 per cent of Estonia’s medical doctors.

In addition to the University of Tartu, two more Estonian universities have made it to the rankings: Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) and Tallinn University, both ranked in the range 801–1000.

Chinese universities rising, Oxford still holding the top spot

Chinese universities have made several historic gains in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, with data revealing that the country is closing in on – and in some areas overtaking – the US in terms of research.

“China is home to the first Asian university in the top 20 of the ranking since the current methodology was introduced in 2011, after Tsinghua University climbed three places to joint 20th this year. The country has also doubled its number of top 100 representatives, from three to six, in the past year, while all bar one of its top 20 institutions in last year’s ranking have improved or maintained their performance,” Times Higher Education said.

The US still dominates the top of the ranking, commanding a record eight of the top 10 positions – with Stanford, Harvard, California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the top five. The UK’s University of Oxford occupies the top spot for the fifth consecutive year.

Cover: University of Tartu’s main building in Tartu. Photo by Kaupo Kalda.

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