The RUR Natural Sciences World University Ranking, based on data from Clarivate Analytics (US), was published today. The Scuola Normale Superiore ranks third in the world in the general ranking of Natural Sciences (after the universities of Stanford and Princeton and before the MIT in Boston) but wins first place in the "research" sector.

The Director of the Normale stated: "the results are in line with our expectations; however, they also prompt reflection on university rankings".

Pisa, 22th October, 2019

The Scuola Normale (Pisa) is the first university in the world for research in natural sciences: physics, mathematics and chemistry. This was announced in an international ranking published today, the RUR Natural Sciences World University Ranking, which assessed the performance of over 700 universities in Natural Sciences, analyzing the number of papers published by academic staff, citations of international journals, academic reputation, scientific impact and number of admitted graduates who obtain a PhD.

The RUR World University Ranking is published by an agency sited in Moscow, and is based on data from the Clarivate Analytics (US); it is compiled taking into account the size of the universities.

Overall in the disciplinary field of Natural Sciences - which corresponds, except for biology, to the Faculty of Sciences of the Normale - the Scuola, which was the place of study of the Nobel prize winners Fermi and Rubbia and the Fields Medal winner Figalli, ranks third in the world (Stanford University coming first and Princeton University second) and comes before the Massachusetts Institute of Techonology (MIT) in Boston. The second Italian university to rank came 106th.

To draw up the ranking in Natural Sciences, twenty parameters were analyzed, subdivided into four sectors: "research", which has a weight of 40% (the Normale is the best university in the world), "teaching", also with a weight of 40% on the overall score (the Normale comes first in Italy, third in the world), followed by Internationalization and finally financial sustainability of the activities, both of which weigh 10% (the Normale ranks 187th and 41st worldwide, and again first in Italy).

In the general ranking, which also considers the universities’ performance in the Human Sciences, Life Sciences, Medicine, Technological Sciences and Social Sciences, as well as in the Natural Sciences, the Scuola Normale Superiore ranks twenty-second in the world, by far the first Italian university (the second is the University of Pisa, 209th) and confirms last year’s position, twenty-first. Clarivate Analytics provided data for 930 universities for the overall ranking.

"I would like to take this opportunity to solicit a public reflection on the value of these rankings and on how they are presented, given that they have great media relevance," stated the Director of the Scuola Normale, Luigi Ambrosio. “I take the opportunity to do so in this circumstance, without running the risk of being accused of “sour grapes”, precisely because the Normale has been rewarded in such a spectacular way. There are many ratings, compiled with very different criteria and motivations by different actors, sometimes not taking into account the size of the universities (which is like comparing the Ferrari with a large car manufacturer by counting the respective number of cars produced) and the different missions (generalist  university, polytechnic, centre of advanced studies ...). It is fair at this point to ask what value these ratings have in judging the level of an entire university; I consider this value overrated. If anything, the ratings can be useful to highlight trends of improvement or decline, as I stated just a few days ago during the inauguration of the Academic Year. That said, a more in-depth analysis is underway at the Scuola Normale and I am not surprised by the results of this latter ranking, well weighted as to  the size of the universities. The quality standards of our institution, which require us to recruit the best students, to provide them with academic staff able to meet the highest standards, and to work in research on a daily basis, make it almost a given that the Normale be ranked among the first university institutions, especially in sectors where bibliometric monitoring is simpler and more tried and tested such as in physics, mathematics, biology and chemistry. Moreover, also in this year's rating of the Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, which takes into account performance based on the number of students and academic staff, the Normale ranked eighth in the world".


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