The Netherlands continues to perform well in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The highest ranked university this year is Delft University of Technology at number 59. EUR is one of the few universities to rise in the rankings, going from 71st to 69th place. Tilburg University also did well, breaking into the top-200 at a shared 198th place.

At the top of the ranking is the British University of Oxford. The United States and Great Britain still dominate the rankings while Germany is also well represented. And they are then followed by the small country of the Netherlands in fourth place in the country ranking.



“This is fantastic news for the research sector in the Netherlands,” says Phil Baty, editor-in-chief of the ranking. “It’s a world-class achievement we can be proud of,” stated Karl Dittrich, President of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU).

The compilers of the ranking point out that Asian universities are advancing and they could soon overtake European universities in the rankings. Dutch universities would then likely drop in the rankings even if they are still performing as well as they have in the past.

The ranking looks at the reputation of universities as well as the lecturer-to-student ratio, the number of international students and lecturers, the collaboration with the corporate sector, and the impact of scientific research. It is particularly in the latter area that the Netherlands has performed very well.


In the academic world these types of rankings are often criticised. They are considered detrimental to science because researchers then employ all kinds of tactics to raise their score: for example, research findings are spread out over multiple articles as a way of garnering more citations. Another criticism is that teaching performance is either ignored or barely considered in the rankings.

The VSNU also emphasises that rankings cannot provide the full picture regarding a university’s performance. However, they do play an important role in the academic world: “In spite of their limitations, the rankings are taken seriously at the international level and considered to be an important source of information by universities, researchers, international students, and employers”.