For the 17th consecutive year, Harvard has been voted the best university in the world, while Paris-Sud is in 37th place. But this ranking is regularly criticized.

Harvard, in the lead for the 17th consecutive year, and US universities continue to dominate the Shanghai standings released Thursday, with eight places in the top 10, while the first French points to 37th place.

Top 10 unchanged

This ranking, made by the independent firm Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, distinguishes since 2003 the 500 best higher education institutions in the world. For this 2019 edition, she publishes the ranking of 1,000 universities. The top 10 is identical to last year, with eight American universities and two British top-ranked.

Harvard is in the lead for seventeen consecutive years, ahead of compatriot Stanford. The British University Cambridge holds the third place on the podium. Next are American MIT (4th), Berkeley (5th) and Princeton (6th). As in 2018, only four non-US universities reach the top 20: British Cambridge, Oxford (7th place) and University College London (15th, +2 places), while the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich points to the 19th place (unchanged).

A ranking criticized

The Shanghai ranking takes into account six criteria, including the number of Nobel and Fields medals among graduate students and professors, the number of researchers most cited in their discipline, or the number of publications in the journals Science and Nature . If the firm presents this ranking as "the most reliable", these criteria are denounced by many European officials as a bias harmful to their institutions.

While welcoming France's sixth place in the world - with 21 institutions ranked among the top 500 - the Minister of Higher Education Frédérique Vidal regretted that "some" of the choices of the ranking "particularly serve French universities". The first French university, Paris-Sud, wins five places and is ranked 37th in the standings. The Sorbonne (44th) lost eight places and the Ecole normale supérieure (79th) lost fifteen