according to this study, the university of zurich is ranked among the top 50 universities in the world (pdf), top 10 in europe, and as number 2 in switzerland (following eth). criteria were only “scientific” ones: number of nobel prize winners, number of very frequently cited researchers, number of in “nature” or “science” published papers, number of papers listed on the “science citation index expanded” and on the “social sciences citation index”. they also calculated performance per researcher employed at the institution.
well, nice to hear.. despite of “never believe statistics you didn’t fake yourself” ;). if we assume that these guys did their job right, then these results are somewhat surprising indeed. for example there are quite many universities i would have expected to be ranked better, based on their reputation. e.g.
6. massachusetts institute of technology (mit, usa)
25. swiss federal institute of technology (eth, switzerland)
60. technological university of munich (tum, germany)
61. carnegie mellon university (usa)
80. purdue (usa)
to name a few. somes i would have expected in worse positions (mostly american universities). possible explanations there are many.. one can be found here (#6). i suppose if they would include better balanced measures (see e.g. #8), then this ranking would be significantly different anyway.
a thing which is of greater concern to me atm is the fact that within the same university, even within the same study course (“cs/it & business”), standards can differ significantly. just two days ago, a couple of friends and yours truly experienced that final marks can vary a lot, depending on what elective subject you choose/chose (mild vs. demanding professor) and whether you had the luck to study according to new regulations (“aps” – shorter studies and higher marks in average) or according to the old regulations (“po-95” – longer studies and lower marks in average -> the latter except for those few who chose “multimedia” and/or “information management” [= “mis” for u.s. readers] just before the according chair holders became “emeritus” about 1.5 years ago ;)
another hot topic currently discussed is the transition to “m. sc.” studies. in fact, our studies are harder than most u.s. “m. sc.” studies, yet we don’t have this “recognition” (at least on the paper) so far. don’t get me wrong – i’m the last one who’d care about titles, rankings and such. but as most others obviously do, there’s no other choice than taking it seriously too (unless i’d intend to spend the rest of my life as a yogi meditating the whole day long.. which wouldn’t even be that bad, actually ;))
so: always be prudent in how you judge people ;)