• France edition
 
France trails US and UK in university rankings

France trails US and UK in university rankings

Published: 16 Aug 2013 10:40 GMT+02:00
Updated: 16 Aug 2013 10:40 GMT+02:00

A French minister has defended the quality of its universities after France found itself with just four institutions among the world’s top 100, according to annual rankings released this week. Genevieve Fioraso claimed the rankings favoured anglo-saxon universities.

As US institutions like Harvard and Stanford continue to dominate global rankings, the best that French higher education could muster this year is the 37th place ranking of Pierre and Marie Curie University – Paris 6, a part of the Sorbonne University of Paris.

For the second year running, just 20 French universities featured in the top 500 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) or the “Shanghai Ranking” compiled by Jiao Tong University.

That leaves France trailing well behind the US, which once again dominates the list with 17 of the top 20, the UK, with 37 institutions in the top 500, and near-neighbours Germany, which has 38.

Although Switzerland and Australia have fewer universities on the list, they have more in both the top 20 and top 100, and so are listed higher than their French counterparts by the organisers of the rankings.

This year’s French total, however, does represent a slight improvement on 2012, when just three universities were included in the top 100.

France's Minister for Higher Education Geneviève Fioraso claims the rankings do not tell the full story because the criteria favoured Anglo-saxon institutions.

“I am delighted with the progress of French universities,” she said in French daily Le Figaro.

“Although, unlike the previous government, climbing these kinds of rankings isn’t our objective, because they don’t take into account our level of research,” she added.

Fioraso also noted that the rankings focussed on research universities but did not take into account research carried out at organisations such as France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), which is"the first in the world for scientific publications".

Le Figaro itself suggested that French institutions suffered from the ranking's bias towards the hard sciences like physics, chemistry and biology. 

“The Shanghai rankings privilege research in exact sciences, to the detriment of teaching human and social sciences,” claimed Caroline Beyer on Thursday.

That theory, however, is belied by the fact that when it comes to social sciences specifically, not a single French university is included in the ARWU’s top 200.

In this year's rankings Pierre and Marie Curie University (37) replaces Paris-Sud (39) as the top-ranked Gallic institution, and is joined by the prestigious Ecole Normale Supériore (71) in the capital, and the University of Strasbourg (97).

SEE ALSO: Studying in France – What you need to know

While France makes no appearance, there are seven Dutch and Swiss institutions in the top 100 for social sciences.

This week’s rankings are only the latest to paint a grim picture of French higher education’s global standing.

In March, The Local reported how not a single French university made it into the top 50 of The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings.

“It’s a bit of a blow to national pride," Philip Baty, editor of the rankings told The Local at the time.

“There is work to be done: having high-profile, well-regarded institutions recognized by scholars as being among the world’s best is vital for the future success of France’s higher education system and knowledge economy,” Baty added.

“There are some language issues. French academics are not publishing work in English the way universities in say Germany or Asia do,” he said.

The provision of English-language courses at university level has been a highly contentious issue in France of late.

A plan to offer more courses in English provoked vehement opposition, before being passed in the National Assembly by French MPs in May.

"A people that speaks a foreign language more and more loses its identity piece by piece," UMP lawmaker Jacques Myard said during a debate on the bill.

To see the ARWU's Top 500 for 2013 and previous years, follow this link.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Threat letter to French mosque praises far right
A mosque in the Paris suburbs has gotten a threat tied to the recent election of far-right National Front mayor. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right

After pork products turned up in the mailbox of a suburban Paris mosque along with a threatening letter praising the town's recently elected far-right National Front mayor, muslims are concerned about a "worrying" local shift. READ () »

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires
Hundreds of Velib' bike tires slashed in 'slavery' protest. Photo: Cyril Folliot/AFP

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires

Far-left activists slashed the tires on over 360 Velib’ bikes in Paris this week in protest of the ‘slave’ labour the programme’s operator uses to repair vandalized bikes. The vandals could themselves end up 'slave' labour. READ () »

New scandal means more bad news for president
France's president was smacked with his administration's latest embarrassing scandal. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

New scandal means more bad news for president

The latest blow to struggling President François Hollande came on Friday when a close aide quit over allegations he'd used taxpayer money to support a posh lifestyle and appeared to have breached conflict of interest barriers. READ () »

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay
France's economy minister wants bank bosses to explain their "indecent" pay. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay

France’s economy minister, outraged by huge pay hikes the bosses of the country’s biggest banks have awarded themselves in the past year, called the chiefs to a meeting to “explain” their “indecent” pay. READ () »

Eurostar: Major train delays after two incidents
Multiple incident snarl Eurostar traffic during Easter rush. Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

Eurostar: Major train delays after two incidents

Hundreds of travelers on Eurostar trains between Paris and London saw hours of delays and cancellations on Thursday night due to back-to-back technical and fatal incidents. Service was supposed to be back to normal on Friday. READ () »

Police finish DNA sweep in hunt for school rapist
Police have finished an unprecedented DNA collection in the hunt for a rapist. Photo: Xavier Leoty/AFP

Police finish DNA sweep in hunt for school rapist

All 527 male students and staff at a private school in France have turned over their DNA as part of an unprecedented hunt for whoever raped a girl in a campus bathroom. One student who'd refused relented under prosecutors' pressure. READ () »

‘France needs to change its response to crime’
France prison's have hit a new record for overcrowding. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP

‘France needs to change its response to crime’

This month France had more prisoners behind bars than ever before in its history, according to statistics unveiled on Thursday. An expert on the country's penal system told The Local that Sarkozy-era sentencing laws are largely to blame. READ () »

Burgundy 'will be ruined by wind farms'
Will Burgundy's worldwide reputation suffer because of windfarms? Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

Burgundy 'will be ruined by wind farms'

The famous Burgundy region of France is synonymous with its vineyards but its image will soon be ruined, campaigners say, by the planned construction of new wind turbines. They say their chances of gaining UNESCO world heritage status are threatened. READ () »

VIDEO: Inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Here is a video look inside Paris's first-ever hotel just for cats. Photo: Lisa Winderberg/Flickr

VIDEO: Inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats

It was only a matter of time before the world’s most visited city extended its luxury lodging options to pets as well. Here's a look inside Paris’s first ever hotel just for cats, which naturally comes complete with a "gourmet" food menu and a games room. READ () »

French government's austerity denial 'a joke'
Some €50 billion cuts and freezes in benefits are not austerity, the French government says. That's a joke, say analysts. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP

French government's austerity denial 'a joke'

After announcing a raft of spending cuts and benefits freezes this week the French government was at pains to stress that the country was not undergoing “austerity” as it faces a rebellion among its ranks. Analysts dismissed ministers' efforts as "a joke". READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
Advertisement:
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
National
What's the worst thing to do when you realise you're on the wrong train?
From showers to kissing: Anglos tell Twitter what's weird about France
National
'A big quake will hit France and there will be casualties' - Scientist warns
Culture
After all the dozens of books is France still worth writing about?
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Opinion
Paris or the suburbs - where would you live?
National
VIDEO: Walk the line - crossing the Seine on a tightrope
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se