Methodology used in the rankings

Consult the main methodological aspects in detail in the U-Ranking Report

What are university rankings?

University rankings classify universities, allowing them to be compared by condensing heterogeneous information about their characteristics and results into one indicator. While these rankings simplify the complexity of reading the results, they offer a simple-straightforward classification with the advantages and disadvantages that this entails: they offer a more user-friendly assessment for those who do not have the time or the preparation to analyze the performance of a university in depth, but they hide differences between universities that could be of significance. Oversimplification is dangerous and, whenever possible, a ranking system should offer different information about the different dimensions of activities carried out by the universities and its performance in specific areas of knowledge or degrees.

Transparency and rigor are essential principles in the elaboration of a ranking. The construction of a ranking involves a certain amount of subjectivity when selecting variables and building and weighting indicators. In order to limit the effects of subjectivity, it is important to explain in detail the methodology used.

What methodology is used in U-Ranking?

U-Ranking provides a system of indicators of the performance results of Spanish universities, rigorous in its approach and following criteria derived from international studies and European Union proposals on the design conditions that a good ranking should have.

The research is approached with a careful analysis of the information provided by the simple and synthetic indicators used, evaluating the aggregation criteria used to change simple indicators into synthetic indicators, the sensitivity of the synthetic indices and the rankings that are derived from changes in the aggregation procedures. To create a ranking, it is necessary to select variables and manage, homogenize and incorporate diverse data. The complete process followed in the U-Ranking project is explained in detail in the reference document, with a summary below:

The importance of the specialization of each university

U-Ranking takes into account the different specialization of each university on two areas:

University activity

U-Ranking allows an independent analysis of the teaching activity and the research and innovation activity of the universities, recognizing the existence of different specialization profiles in the Spanish University System.

Areas of study

If information is available, each indicator is calculated for each area of study and university. Each one of these is standardized by dividing by the median of its area. The 5 standardized indicators of each university are aggregated by calculating the arithmetic average weighted by the weight of the student body in each area and university (if the indicator belongs to the teaching dimension) or by the weight of the faculty members with PhD (if it belongs to the research and innovation dimension).

What information is used to construct the rankings?

The U-Ranking index is constructed from 20 indicators that are grouped into 2 dimensions (teaching and research and innovation). The ranking includes the universities that have information on at least 18 of these 20 indicators. Data is obtained from public information systems and statistical sources.

To assess the teaching and research and innovation activities of universities, four areas are considered in each of these large dimensions. The following table describes the indicators, sources of information, period covered, and level of disaggregation used to calculate the university ranking.

Teaching

Resources
Indicator and definition Source Period Disaggregation
Faculty member with PhD per 100 students: Full-time equivalent faculty members and research staff in centers belonging to the University per 100 full-time equivalent students in studies of 1st and 2nd cycle, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and students in Doctoral degrees (all of these students registered in centers belonging to the University) SIIU 2014/15 to 2019/20 Branch of knowledge
Budget / Student: Effective income of the University by number of full-time equivalent students in studies of 1st and 2nd cycle, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and of students in Doctoral degrees (all of these students registered in centers belonging to the University) SIIU/SABI/WEB 2014 to 2019 University
Faculty member with PhD / Faculty members: Full-time equivalent faculty members with PhD in centers belonging to the University over total full-time equivalent teaching and research staff in centers belonging to the University SIIU 2014/15 to 2019/20 Branch of knowledge
Output
Quality
Internationalization

Research and Innovation

Resources
Indicator and definition Source Period Disaggregation
Competitive public resources per faculty member with PhD: Competitive public resources for undirected research projects, including both projects and complementary actions and ERDF funds, over the total number of faculty members with full-time equivalent PhD Agencia Estatal de Investigación / SIIU 2015 to 2020 Branch of knowledge
Contracts with PhDs, research grants and technical support over total budget: Competitive resources obtained for research staff training, Juan de la Cierva, Ramón and Cajal and support technicians over total effective income Agencia Estatal de Invetigación / SIIU / SABI / WEB 2015 to 2020 Branch of knowledge
Output
Quality
Internationalization