Times Higher Education World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by Times Higher Education (THE) magazine. The publisher had collaborated with Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) to publish the joint THE–QS World University Rankings from 2004 to 2009 before it turned to Thomson Reuters for a new ranking system. The publication now comprises the world's overall, subject, and reputation rankings, alongside three regional league tables, Asia, Latin America, and BRICS & Emerging Economies which are generated by consistent methodology.
THE Rankings is often considered as one of the most widely observed university rankings together with Academic Ranking of World Universities and QS World University Rankings. It is often praised for having a new, improved ranking methodology since 2010 ; however, undermining of non-science-instructing institutions and relying on subjective reputation survey are among the usual criticism and concerns.
The creation of the original Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings was credited in Ben Wildavsky's book, The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities are Reshaping the World, to then-editor of Times Higher Education, John O'Leary. Times Higher Education chose to partner with educational and careers advice company QS to supply the data.
After the 2009 rankings, Times Higher Education took the decision to break from QS and signed an agreement with Thomson Reuters to provide the data for its annual World University Rankings from 2010 onwards. The publication developed a new rankings methodology in consultation with its readers, its editorial board and Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters will collect and analyse the data used to produce the rankings on behalf of Times Higher Education. The first ranking was published in September 2010.
Commenting on Times Higher Education's decision to split from QS, former editor Ann Mroz said: "universities deserve a rigorous, robust and transparent set of rankings – a serious tool for the sector, not just an annual curiosity." She went on to explain the reason behind the decision to continue to produce rankings without QS' involvement, saying that: "The responsibility weighs heavy on our shoulders...we feel we have a duty to improve how we compile them."
Phil Baty, editor of the new Times Higher Education World University Rankings, admitted in Inside Higher Ed: "The rankings of the world's top universities that my magazine has been publishing for the past six years, and which have attracted enormous global attention, are not good enough. In fact, the surveys of reputation, which made up 40 percent of scores and which Times Higher Education until recently defended, had serious weaknesses. And it's clear that our research measures favored the sciences over the humanities."
He went on to describe previous attempts at peer review as "embarrassing" in The Australian: "The sample was simply too small, and the weighting too high, to be taken seriously." THE published its first rankings using its new methodology on 16 September 2010, a month earlier than previous years.