Utrecht University in rankings

Since 2003, international rankings compare universities from all over the world.

Utrecht University usually is ranked in the:

  • Top 75 worldwide (of 17,000+ universities in total)
  • Top 25 in Europe (of 5000+ universities in total)
  • Top 3 in the Netherlands (of 14 universities in total)


The rankings can vary in big ways when it comes down to factors such as methodology, accuracy and meaning. The differences between universities can also make ranking them a tricky matter. This is why a single ranking does not mean much by itself. But together, all rankings give an approximation of a university's achievements over time.

What does Utrecht University score with in the international rankings?

Most worldwide rankings primarily look at research. The impact is very important, as are 'Highly cited researchers': scientists who make an impact with their research and have been among the 1 % most cited scientists of the past ten years.


A number of Dutch rankings specifically focus on education. These are, for instance, Beste Algemene Klassieke Universiteiten (Best General Classical Universities) (Elsevier) and the Beste Brede Klassieke Universiteiten (Best Far-Reaching Classical Universities) (Keuzegids). These are based on a satisfaction survey: the Nationale Studenten Enquête (National Student Survey). In these lists, Utrecht University is usually in the top 3.

What does Utrecht University score with in the national rankings?

Dutch rankings often look at education. In that regard, Utrecht University is a powerful player in the field of innovation and interdisciplinarity.



Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai ranking)

This was the first big ranking. It started in 2003. The order is determined by a number of indicators for good research. For example, consider the number of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals won by staff members and alumni, the number of citations and the number of articles published in ‘Nature' and ‘Science'.

World Universities Ranking of Times Higher Education

Education, impact of citations and research play important roles in this ranking. On top of that, Times Higher Education also looks at international perspectives and research income from corporations.

CWTS Leiden ranking

This ranking is based on research achievements. Among other things, CWTS includes the share in the 10 % most cited publications.

National Taiwan University ranking (NTU)

The NTU fully focuses on scientific output: the number of scientific publications, the number of citations and the number of 'highly cited papers' and publications in 'high impact journals'.

QS Ranking World Universities Ranking

The compilers of the QS Ranking look at scores for research quality (citations and peer review), the staff-to-students ratio, the number of international scientific staff members and students, and the reputations of universities among employers.

U.S. News: Best Global Universities ranking

This list is compiled based on research reputation, primarily of publications and the impact they have.

Nationale Studenten Enquête

Studiekeuze123 holds a survey among several hundreds of thousands of students at applied-science universities and universities. Among other things, they test the content of the education programmes, the quality of the lecturers, the education facilities and how challenging education is.

Elsevier Beste Studies

The Nationale studentenenquête asks students to 'Indicate how satisfied you are with your education in general.' This forms the basis of Elsevier's ranking. This opinion magazine takes the average of the answers provided by full-time students. Of the number of degree programmes rated in this way, Elsevier observes how many of them were rated more positive than the average.


The Keuzegids (Choice Guide) converts results of the Nationale Studenten Enquête into a mark and takes the average from among several degree programmes. The factors they measure are education, communication, art and culture, law and governance, economics, social, health, Earth and environment, exact sciences and ICT, engineering and interdisciplinarity.


Within the Netherlands, university education scores very high compared to other countries. The universities are all within the best 2 % of the world, the VSNU reports. This is why people occasionally call it a 'plateau'. The universities do not often avoid each other's company on the rankings and primarily differ in regards to terms of directions and approach of education and research.