What are they and how are they made?

In recent years, various institutions have employed indicator-based procedures to facilitate a simplified comparison among universities through rank-ordered lists, commonly referred to as rankings. Each of these rankings assigns different weights to components like information from publications databases, institutional statistics, reputational surveys and other data sources.

However, a common criticism of rankings is that the methods used to elaborate them, especially regarding their components and relative weights, are not always transparent nor compatible with the views and habits of some domains, which leads for example to a bias towards natural and life sciences, or to penalise academic output published in languages other than English.

Our view towards rankings

The University of Fribourg appears in rankings to which it effectively submits data, and in others where the ranking organizations collect information on their own. Our participation and, where appropriate, the provision of data, does not imply unconditional support, and although we recognize the growing significance of rankings, we remain attentive to those practices that conflict with a broader and modern vision of the role of higher education and research, and that may reduce the independence of universities for defining their own priorities.

As signatories of the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), and full members of the European Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA), the University of Fribourg is dedicated to the responsible use of scholarly metrics in academia. It implies committing to a fair and responsible evaluation of individuals, research units and institutions, based on scientific content rather than publication metrics or journal identity, and the recognition of all types of research outputs beyond publications.


Ranking results of the University of Fribourg

The landscape of rankings has evolved from the general academic rankings to include specialized sub-rankings, focusing on specific scientific subjects, geographical locations, and emerging criteria like impact and sustainability. The following sections aim to acknowledge and contextualize our latest results in the most significant rankings.

  • Academic and subject rankings
    Times Higher Education

    The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking is one of the most comprehensive university rankings, taking in consideration scientific publications information and institutional statistics, though still incorporating a factor of subjectivity into the score in the form of reputational surveys conducted by THE magazine among scholars and employers, accounting for up to 33% of the final score.

    • The University of Fribourg ranks among the Top 500 Universities, out of more than 2600 institutions.
    • In THE subject-specific ranking, Fribourg holds a favourable position for Arts and Humanities, among the top 250 universities.

    University of Fribourg at THE ranking

    Quacquarelli Symonds (QS)

    The QS World University Rankings is another comprehensive ranking, although up to 45% of the final score is composed by the results of reputational surveys.

    • Fribourg is positioned 563rd in the world from the almost 1500 ranked universities.
    • Among the top 100 universities in Europe in terms of research impact by citations count.
    • Strong positions in the subjects of Classic and Ancient History, Theology, and Philosophy.

    University of Fribourg at QS ranking

    Leiden (CWTS)

    The Leiden (CWTS) Ranking, developed by a non-profit public research institute from the University of Leiden, focuses on removing subjectivities present in other rankings and relies solely on scientometric data from the Scopus database.

    • The relative impact (pp Top 10%) of the publications of the University of Fribourg is among the top 100 in Europe, and in the top 250 universities in the world out of 1400.
    • Strong results for Biomedical and Health Sciences (220th) and Life and Earth Sciences (228th).
    • Fribourg stands out in Switzerland with the highest proportion of open access publications (>85%).
    • Third highest proportion of female authors in Switzerland.

    University of Fribourg at Leiden ranking

    Shanghai (ARWU)

    The Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) assigns 70% of the score to Nobel Prizes and Fields medals, presence of highly cited researchers, and papers published in two journals (Nature & Science), while the remaining 30% comes from scientometric data.

    • Fribourg ranks in the tier from 501 – 600th in the general ranking, from the 3190 ranked universities.
    • In the Shanghai Global Ranking of Academic Subjects, Fribourg stands among the top 200 in the fields of Communication and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

    University of Fribourg at Shanghai ranking

  • Sustainability and Impact rankings

    In addition to traditional academic rankings, the University of Fribourg has embraced new initiatives such as Sustainability and Impact Rankings, considering the environmental and social impact, as well as governance practices of universities, emphasizing a holistic approach to education and research activities.

    Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Sustainability Ranking
    • The QS Sustainability Ranking 2024 positions Fribourg as 311th in the world, out of the 1400 ranked universities.
    • Fribourg is placed in the top half among Swiss ranked universities.
    • Ranked second in Environmental Research in Switzerland.

    QS Sustainability ranking

    WWF Sustainability report

    Every two years, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) produces a comprehensive report about the sustainability of the Higher Education Institutions in Switzerland. Highlights from the last edition in 2021 are:

    • Fribourg classified among the top half of Swiss institutions with a medium progression respect to the previous report of 2019.
    • UniFR was awarded maximum points for the criterion "Anchoring in university leadership".
    • Obtained an excellent score for its commitment to society.

    Rapport — La durabilité dans les hautes écoles suisses 2021


Research Promotion Service

E-mail: research@unifr.ch

T: +41 26 300 73 35

More information on ranking results, methodologies and their composition:

UniFr rankings