Why does Utrecht University still appear in the QS Rankings?

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Utrecht University has decided to no longer actively participate in rankings. This means that the opportunity to provide information is not used. This decision has already led to the UU’s exclusion from the Times Higher Education (THE) rankings in September 2023. Despite not providing data, Utrecht University does still appear in the recently published 2024-2025 QS Rankings, on position 105.

Even though Utrecht University (UU) no longer provides information for the rankings of QS, they continue to rank us. For this reason, UU currently still appears in the QS ranking, as well as in those of ShanghaiRanking, CWTS Leiden, NTU, and others. Last year, our cooperation with QS was terminated, but it depends on QS policy how long UU will appear in this ranking. 

For the ShanghaiRanking, universities do not provide information; instead, this ranking relies on public and paid sources. This explains why UU may still be ranked. In many respects, including this one, it is unclear how these rankings operate. In any case, UU will not submit information for rankings that do not adhere to the principles of open science that UU propagates.

Why UU decided to move away from rankings

UU's decision not to submit data for rankings is a conscious choice:

  • Prioritizing collaboration: Rankings put too much stress on scoring and competition, while we want to focus on collaboration and Open Science.
  • Complexity of quality: It is almost impossible to capture the quality of an entire university with all its different education, research, and impact in one number.
  • Questionable methods: Research shows that rankings are often based on self-reported data by universities and on methodology that is not very transparent.

Strength in unity

The decision to no longer provide the required data to be included in rankings was made in the context of Open Science and the cultural change towards recognition and rewards. UU, like many other Dutch and international universities, has been critical of rankings for a long time. UU’s decision to no longer actively participate is in line with our values and ambitions and what we stand for in the (inter)national academic community. 

Other Dutch universities are also thinking about their participation in rankings. See the advisory document (pdf) that the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) have jointly prepared on the effects of rankings on the academic community and how we should deal with it. We also see an international movement to resist the dominance of rankings, for example at More than Our Rank and COARA.

It is crucial for universities to unite in responsibly handling rankings. We encourage students to compare the content and nature of programmes, and for researchers to focus on the quality of research programmes.

Frequently asked questions about UU's stance on rankings