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UC San Diego Tops List of World’s ‘Golden Age’ Universities

Photo by Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego


  • Kim McDonald

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  • Kim McDonald

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For the second year in a row, the London-based Times Higher Education ranked UC San Diego the world’s number one research university founded during the “golden age” of higher education development, in the two decades between 1945 and 1967—when higher education was characterized by rapid university expansion and increasing investment in research.

Following the La Jolla campus, the top five of the world’s best 100 Golden Age universities are, in order of their ranking, Australian National University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Seoul National University and Australia’s Monash University. UC Irvine, which ranked 9th, was the only other U.S. institution, besides UC San Diego, ranked in the top 10.

“These institutions can often feel disadvantaged in terms of wealth and historical prestige, compared to centuries-old institutions, but have much to offer in terms of dynamism, energy, risk taking and innovation,” said Phil Baty, the publication’s editorial director for global rankings.

The Times Higher Education’s rankings were based on 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators in five categories—teaching, research, citations, knowledge transfer and international outlook. According to the publication, UC San Diego ranked particularly high, compared to other top research universities, on research excellence, particularly citations of its research publications in highly ranked journals, and on knowledge transfer and the ability of the campus to attract financial support from industry.

On the same day the Times Higher Education announced its rankings, the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners announced that the University of California system ranked number one in the world in 2017 in the number of patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that list a university as the first assignee on the issued patent.

“We are honored to receive these two distinctions, both measures of the excellence of our campus and the many positive contributions that our faculty, staff and students have made to society,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Being unbound by tradition has given our campus the liberty to innovate. Our model from day one was focused on breaking down the barriers, so researchers from different disciplines could work collaboratively to solve problems that couldn’t be solved any other way. This nontraditional approach has allowed us to make contributions that benefit society in myriad ways.”

That approach has also led to rapid growth in the size and global impact of the La Jolla campus. UC San Diego now receives some $1.2 billion annually in total research funding, 7th among research universities across the nation and 2nd in the UC system behind UC San Francisco, and generates more than 400 inventions and 250 patents each year. It also spins off more than 50 companies annually, driving the economic growth of the San Diego region.

UC San Diego consistently performs well in national and international rankings. The campus recently was named the world’s 20th best university and 16th best among U.S. universities in the Center for World University Rankings, which measured 2,000 universities worldwide on quality of research, faculty, influence, enterprise and successful alumni.

Many of UC San Diego’s graduate programs were ranked in the top 20 in the 2018 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools guidebook. In addition, the campus was named the 15th best university in the world by the 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities. And, U.S. News and World Report’s global rankings included UC San Diego as the 17th best on its annual list.

For more information about UC San Diego’s rankings, go to the campus profile.

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