There are twelve Dutch universities in the top 200; Delft (58th place) takes the lead for the first time, immediately followed by Wageningen (59). They have gone ahead of the University of Amsterdam (62), which dropped three places. Maastricht University has fallen 25 places. Last year, the UM still held 103rd place, while two years ago, it stood at 94. A drop of 34 places in two years. Eindhoven also takes a considerable hit: from 141 to 167. Groningen, Leiden, Nijmegen, Twente and the Vrije Universiteit suffer slight losses.
Editor Ellie Bothwell of Times Higher Education has no explanation for the downward trend. “It doesn't necessarily mean that the performance of Dutch universities has worsened. It is possible that other universities are becoming better and that the competition has become fiercer.” In particular the Asian universities are making great progress.
The methodology behind the rankings has remained unchanged. “The people who participate in our worldwide survey are not asked the reason why they mention one university and not the other,” says Bothwell. The research and education reputation of a university still determines one third of the total score. And this is exactly what the trouble is, President Martin Paul thinks. “When it comes to reputation, young universities always get lower scores. Looking at the underlying data, I conclude that we are roughly at the 2017 level.”
She believes that what could have played a role, is the fact that the Dutch business community has lowered its contribution to research, although this so-called industry income only accounts for 2.5 per cent of the total score per university.
Apart from the decline, the small country that the Netherlands is still does very well in the recently published university rankings. Of all European countries, only the United Kingdom (29) and Germany (23) have more universities in the top 200. Worldwide, this figure is only exceeded by the United States (60). The rankings are still headed by Oxford and Cambridge.