The Google University Rankings

I’m sure many of us come across the various university rankings from time to time, and read, discuss, then dismiss them. While being generally rediculous (oh no, my student life rating is only 13.7!), you sadly still hear them brought up fairly frequently in discussions about the relative merits of different universities.

Now, nearly all such rankings rely on ‘reputation’ or a similar category as being a large part of how they determine which universities are the best, generally by asking a few academics, maybe some leaders in business, and in some I’ve seen, high school guidance councillors. It all seems rather synthetic. Luckily for us, Google can rank anything we ask it to, based on ‘relevance’, for any keywords we give it. Thus, the top 5 university listings (i.e. primary entrance page for the university, or department) for various keywords:

University (from a bell canada IP address)

  1. Toronto
  2. McGill
  3. Waterloo
  4. Harvard
  5. Stanford

University (from an american IP address)

  1. Harvard
  2. Stanford
  3. Cambridge
  4. Toronto
  5. Yale

Computer Science (bell)

  1. MIT
  2. Carnegie Mellon
  3. Maryland
  4. Stanford
  5. Washington

Computer Science (us)

  1. Carnegie Mellon
  2. MIT
  3. Maryland
  4. Stanford
  5. Washington

Geography (bell)

  1. Simon Fraser
  2. McGill
  3. UBC
  4. Toronto
  5. Ohio State

Geography (us)

  1. Ohio State
  2. Edinburgh
  3. Leeds
  4. Penn State
  5. UCSB

Among other things, this makes me realise how heavily the Google rank of the page is affected by your location. It also makes me think that geography as a department doesn’t exist strongly at a lot of universities, as I had to go through many a results page to get those five dubious results. I didn’t list the environment results, as you have to add a few modifiers to make universities come up.

Caveats: among other things, this is obviously heavily slanted towards english universities with well formed entrance pages, in addition to being obviously heavily affected by Google’s attempt at geographic relevance.

2 Responses to “The Google University Rankings”

  1. sieber says:

    If it’s hard to find geography, think of how hard it might be to find classics or latin studies.