University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


University of Copenhagen clawing its way back on Times ranking

The University of Copenhagen has bounced back on the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking to 101st spot. It thereby appears to be inching its way back up after a dive on the tables a few years ago following government cuts to funding.

The University of Copenhagen has made gains on the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking. It now ranks at 101 on the 2020 tables, up 15 spots over last year, and apparently slowly inching back towards the top 100 after a fall following funding cuts and staff layoffs in 2016.

The University of Copenhagen dropped 38 places on the 2017 Times ranking and has been out of the top 100 ever since.

Of other Danish universities, Aarhus University ranks at 115 on the 2020 tables, up over last year, while the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is at 184, after dropping 19 places.

UCPH in the rankings

QS World University Rankings (2020): 81

THE World University Rankings (2020): 101

Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)  Shanghai (2019): 26

Leiden Ranking* (2019) 36

Leiden Ranking** (2019): 167

*Number of publications belonging to top 10 per cent of their field.
** Proportion of publications that belong to the top 10 per cent of their field.

Top of the list this year on THE is the University of Oxford, UK, followed by the California Institute of Technology, USA,  University of Cambridge, UK, Stanford, USA, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

Copenhagen this year saw a significant increase in its teaching score, which includes data on resources, but also on its global academic reputation

Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer, Times Higher Education


Anglo-American institutions usually dominate the top spots on THE.

Switzerland’s ETH Zurich, is the highest-ranked university outside the UK and US with a joint 13th place.

Europe faces serious challenges in global higher education, according to Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer of the THE index.

»The twin prongs of economic instability and increasingly isolationist political tendencies on the continent threaten to undermine a great deal of the excellent work done by European universities,« he says according to a press release.

Each year, a number of international rankings are published that compare universities to each other, and the THE list is one of four rankings that the University of Copenhagen uses as a benchmark (see its placing on the other rankings in the fact box right).

The THE ranking has been a particularly dizzy rollercoaster ride for the University of Copenhagen, with recent years seeing gyrations back and forth from 51st to 177th since 2010.

But after the drop in 2017, the University of Copenhagen has this year edged up towards the 100 mark on THE. Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer at THE interpreted the University of Copenhagen data for the University Post:

»Copenhagen this year saw a significant increase in its teaching score, which includes data on resources, but also on its global academic reputation, based on our survey of over 21,000 academics across the world, and other metrics. Another area of improvement is in our research pillar, looking again at academic reputation, research productivity as well as resources. It seems that Copenhagen is protecting and growing its international academic reputation among thousands of peers – its global academic brand, so to speak,« says Phil Baty.

Nearly 1,400 higher education institutions

The THE World University Ranking includes nearly 1,400 higher education institutions throughout the world. The study looks at a number of different criteria that include teaching, research, number of citations, international outlook, and cooperation with companies.

Read more about the Times Higher Education ranking, and see the full list here.


Like many universities, the University of Copenhagen has officially held itself aloof from communicating and strategizing on rankings, where results can bounce back and forth, making them hard to only spin in a positive direction.

But this may be about to change. Rector Henrik Wegener said at a University Board meeting earlier this year that UCPH »should try to do more to ensure that we at least get the placings that we deserve.« The board meeting also discussed lightening up its no-communication of ranking results policy.