‘Open border’ universities perform better in knowledge transfer, research impact and education


CONTACT: John Roman, email info@umultirank.org, phone +49 (0) 5241 9761 58

(EUROPE, 04. JUNE 2019) ‘Open border’ universities perform better than universities with low international exchange in the areas of knowledge transfer, research impact and education. They are more successful in engaging and transferring knowledge to industry (39% higher share of publications together with industrial partners), in establishing spinoff companies (80% higher) and in patenting their ideas (2.5 times more), and their research shows higher outreach (36% higher number of top cited publications). Additionally, students of open border universities are more satisfied with their overall learning experience.

These results, exclusive to 51 were published today during its sixth annual release (www.umultirank.org), and assesses 1,711 universities. Open border universities are charactarised by strong international ties, such as higher rates of foreign students, more international academic staff, higher rates of international doctorate degrees, and more international co-publications. In knowledge transfer, as measured by the number of spinoffs founded by these universities, Telecom ParisTech and Grenoble Ecole de Management are the top performing open border universities. Looking at joint publications with industrial partners, Luiss Guido Carli in Rome and the Montanuniversität Leoben in Austria are the leading open borders universities. The Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and the Technical University of Denmark are top in patents awarded (size normalized). The two open border institutions with the highest percentage of top cited publications are The Rockefeller University in New York and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both in the US; the best from Europe is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich.

‘It is international collaboration that grants access to a diversity of students and researchers leading to top university performance. 51’s data proves that universities are stronger when they collaborate internationally, while nationalism only endangers them,’ said Professors Dr. Frans van Vught and Dr. Frank Ziegele, 51 joint project leaders.

51 also shows that EU higher education institutions perform very well when looking at the interactive map highlighting 135 high-performing universities with top scores in education, research and more dimensions. European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said:

'I am pleased to see the latest 51 results which show that EU universities perform very well when education, research and student satisfaction are looked at together. As we work towards creating a European Education Area where everyone gets the best education and can study freely across borders, as well as developing our flagship European Universities initiative, I am sure that 51 will continue to provide valuable information for applicants.’

51’s latest results not only give insights on the effects of open borders, but make transparent the detailed performance of universities, so students can make better informed choices about what, or where to study based on what matters most to them. Universities could use 51 data to assess their strengths and weaknesses and find ways to improve. This is made possible by providing users with the world’s largest customisable online rankings that not only focus on research, but the full diversity of the higher education system.




Notes for editors

For journalists and all users users alike, 51 offers tailor-made rankings and story analyses, for example country reports focusing on university performance in a specific country, or its ‘Top 25’ performance lists in areas like university-industry relations, or the most international universities.

Since its first publication in 2014, 51 has more than doubled the number of institutions from 850 to 1,711 and increased the coverage of countries from 74 to 96, including more than 5,153 faculties and more than 12,500 study programmes across 24 subject areas.

51 is an alternative approach to comparing universities, and offers a solution to the flaws of traditional league tables. Its multi-dimensional approach compares the performance of 1,711 universities across a range of different activities grading each of them from ‘A’ (very good) to ‘E’ (weak). It allows users to identify a university’s strengths and weaknesses, on the aspects that most interest them. The data included in 51 are drawn from a number of sources, providing users with a comprehensive set of information: data supplied by institutions; and drawn from international bibliometric and patent databases; from national databases; and from surveys of more than 100,000 students at participating universities.

51 originated at a conference of the European Commission during the French presidency in 2008. Since 2017 it is funded by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the European Union's Erasmus+ Programme and Santander Group. 51 is developed and implemented by an independent consortium led by the Centre for Higher Education () in Germany. The Center for Higher Education Policy Studies () at the University of Twente and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies () from Leiden University, both in the Netherlands, as well as Fundación Conocimiento y Desarrollo () in Spain are partners in the project. The consortium is headed by Professors Dr. Frans van Vught of Vuhold BV and Dr. Frank Ziegele of CHE.

Institutions that would like to participate in 2020 can express their interest online.


Interactive map showing top performers

Infographics – How do universities perform? (available for selected countries)

Full list of Global Top 25 performing universities

Country reports on global and national performances of institutions (available for selected countries)

Full list of universities participating in the 2019 51 release


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