ETH Zurich named the best university outside the UK and US by new THE ranking

ETH Zurich named the best university outside the UK and US by new THE ranking

The latest iteration of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings has proven to be a mixed bag for universities in Switzerland. While the study for 2024 saw six Swiss academic institutions rise in the ranking, and ETH in Zurich retain its title as the best university outside the UK and US, six other universities have seen their scores fall and one has dropped out of the global top 100.

World University Rankings 2024 by THE

Every year since 2004, THE has used the World University Rankings to analyse academic institutions around the world in order to give prospective students a guide to which university to attend based on their specialism or interests. In 2024, 1.904 universities from 108 countries and regions were included in the study, which uses five different categories and 18 different indicators to rank each institution. These are:

  • Teaching - Reputation survey, staff-to-student ratio, doctorate-to-bachelor ratio, doctorates awarded to academic staff ratio and institutional income.
  • Research - Reputation survey, research income and research productivity.
  • Citations - How many times a university’s work is cited by scholars globally.
  • Industry income - Transfer and value of invention given from a university to entrepreneurs.
  • International outlook - The proportion of international students and staff, and whether the university collaborates with institutions abroad.

Each university featured in the top 500 was given a rating out of 100 in each category. A weighted average score is then calculated to determine each institution's place in the overall ranking.

UK and US universities remain dominant

Much like for 2023, the World University Rankings for 2024 was dominated by British and American institutions. The University of Oxford won the academic boat race, placing first on the list mainly due to the sheer number of high-quality research papers submitted by the institution every year.

This year saw Stanford University rise to claim second place in the list after coming in joint third last year. The battle for third place was won by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after the university came in fifth last year. 

Top universities in the world for 2024

In all, the top 10 universities in the world for 2024 were:

  1. University of Oxford (98,5)
  2. Stanford University (98)
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (97,9)
  4. Harvard University (97,8)
  5. University of Cambridge (97,5)
  6. Princeton University (96,9)
  7. California Institute of Technology (96,5)
  8. Imperial College London (95,1)
  9. University of California, Berkeley (94,6)
  10. Yale University (94,2)

The biggest movers in the top 10 were the University of Cambridge (third to fifth) and Imperial College London (10th to 8th).

ETH Zurich within spitting distance of the top 10

This year, ETH Zurich retained its crown of being the best university outside the UK and US, placing 11th place overall with 93,1 points. The university is now just 1,1 points away from breaking into the top 10, having improved its score by 3,7 points compared to last year.

This improvement was down to significantly higher scores in ETH’s teaching, research environment, research quality and industry scores - the latter saw a 23,8 point increase compared to last year. However, despite Swiss university graduates receiving some of the highest starting salaries in the world, THE noted that ETH will need to improve its teaching and industry connections if it is going to challenge for the top 10.

Mixed bag for other Swiss universities

It also proved a positive ranking for a number of other Swiss universities, with ETH's sister university in Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Zurich seeing their positions on the ranking rise to 33rd and 80th respectively. The universities of Geneva, Fribourg and Neuchâtel also improved their positions on the ranking.

However, some Swiss institutions struggled, with the University of Bern dropping out of the top 100 for the first time in two years, placing 116th. The universities of Basel, Lausanne, Italian Switzerland and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland also dropped down the order this year. 

THE explained that while most of these institutions have excellent research and industry connections, and a vibrant international student community, many struggle when it comes to their teaching scores, especially around student-to-staff ratios and their reputational surveys.

Universities in Switzerland ranked from best to worst

In all, here is how all universities in Switzerland were ranked this year. 

  • 11. ETH Zurich (93,1)
  • 33. University of Applied Sciences Lausanne, EPFL (81,4)
  • 80. University of Zurich (69,9)
  • =116. University of Bern (65,4)
  • =123. University of Basel (64,9)
  • =143. University of Lausanne (62,70)
  • 183. University of Geneva (59,8)
  • 251-300. University of Italian Switzerland (53,1-55,8)
  • 351-400. University of St. Gallen (49,1-51)
  • 401-500. University of Fribourg (45,4-49)
  • 401-500. University of Neuchâtel (45,4-49)
  • 801-1.000. ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences (32,7-36,9)
  • 1.001-1.200. University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland (28,3-32,6)

For more information about the ranking, check out THE’s website.

Thumb image credit: Judith Linine /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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