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Photo: Stefan Ideberg

The University of Gothenburg has moved up in several subject areas in this year's Shanghai Ranking


This year’s edition of subject rankings from the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), also known as the Shanghai Ranking, was recently announced. The University of Gothenburg has moved up in several subject areas and is notably the best Swedish university within six of these areas.

The University of Gothenburg is included in 31 of the 54 subject lists, and among Swedish higher education institutions, the University holds the highest ranking on 6 of these lists: Dentistry & Oral Science (18), Human Biological Sciences (25), Political Sciences (28), Public Administration (34), Communication (51-75) and Law (101–150).

Magnus Machale-Gunnarsson, an analyst at the University of Gothenburg, follows the major rankings and has analysed the list from the University’s perspective.

“A positive change is that, within Political Sciences, we are now ranked 28th compared to the previous 37th, which puts us as best in Sweden. We have also climbed in the ranking for Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences to the 76–100 range from last year’s 201–300 interval.”

The reason that the University of Gothenburg is ranked higher in these fields is more publications and more cited publications in prominent journals. For Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, this is primarily the result of more publications in top journals, where the University has gone from 0 to 25 points on a scale of 0–100.

Another major positive change for the University is Dentistry & Oral Sciences, which was ranked 18th instead of last year’s 26th spot. The University also shares first place among Swedish higher education institutions in the subject area Education (101–150).

The University of Gothenburg ranked in the top 100 within the following subjects:

  • Dentistry & Oral Sciences: 18
  • Human Biological Sciences: 25
  • Political Sciences: 28
  • Biological Sciences: 31
  • Clinical Medicine: 51–75
  • Nursing: 51–75
  • Communication: 51–75
  • Oceanography: 51–75
  • Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences: 76–100
  • Atmospheric Science: 76–100

Controversial measurement methods

Rankings are commonly followed by a fair bit of criticism for measurement methods and indicators. This is also true for the Shanghai Ranking.

“In short, you can say the criticism is that it is difficult to know what subjects are actually included in the subject names, that important scientific prizes sometimes can result in surprising effects, and that major research environments are favoured significantly”, says Machale-Gunnarsson.

The ranking is one of the most prominent

Each year, Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) publishes a ranking list of the world’s leading universities – a overall ranking and a subject ranking list. The ranking list is best known as the Shanghai Ranking.

“Even with valid criticism of the method, you can say the ranking is considered one of the most influential and has the greatest impact.”

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