Big names are missing in 2021 university rankings

Big names are missing in 2021 university rankings


norman lebrecht

March 05, 2021

In the performing arts section of the QS World University Rankings, Juilliard controversially comes top with London’s Royal College of Music second.

There is no place in the top ten for Berlin or Munich.

The Curtis Institute does not figure in the top 25.

See here.


  • opilec says:

    ‘There is no place in the top ten for Berlin or Paris.’

    Presumably, then, the ‘Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris’ listed at #5 is the one in Paris, Texas?

  • Pedro says:

    Seven out of the top 20 are in the UK. Maybe we’re not so bad at music education after all.

    • Chris says:

      Ah, yes of course, there is no bias whatsoever when a British publication ranks RAM, RCM, and Glasgow above Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Helsinki, Salzburg, Curtis, Eastman, Bloomington, etc. Completely objective and reliable, naturally.

  • Hugh Molloy says:

    I suspect that this set of ‘rankings’ has as little validity as many others.. A statistician will probably be able to run a coach and horses through the data behind the headlines.

  • Reality-based says:

    What’s with NYU in 6th place, behind only Juilliard among US schools, and well ahead of Indiana, USC, the Ivy Leagues, etc.?

  • Larry W says:

    While generally useless, these rankings “are based upon academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact.” Not sure what is controversial about Juilliard being ranked number one. And Paris Conservatory (CNSMDP) is listed fifth.

    • Anon says:

      Maybe the fact that Curtis is actually the best, not Juilliard.

      • Kyle Wiedmeyer says:

        To be sure, Curtis is only a music school, while Juilliard is a performing arts school, teaching drama and dance in addition to music. Could that be why it ranks where it does?

      • Larry W says:

        On this list Curtis is number 26. Like I said, generally useless. It may be controversial to NL because Juilliard bested the Royal College of Music.

    • Pablo Picasso says:

      More Anglo-Saxon rubbish spread across yUkland, wAssies, etc.

  • V.Lind says:

    Terrific, if surprising, result for the HKAPA. 10th in the world!

  • Inspector Clouseau says:

    The QS table uses the following metrics:
    Academic reputation
    Employer reputation
    Research citations per paper

    The third category, citations, hugely skews the table in favour of English-speaking universities. When considering conservatoires and performing arts institutions, research is also quite a small part of what goes on there so this table is probably pretty irrelevant. Employer reputation maybe counts for more.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      A ranking of conservatories that doesn’t include a criterion of graduates’ career success seems meaningless. Something like employment rate in the degree field within x years of graduation, or average income within x years, seems much more important than the citation or H-index for performing arts institutions.

  • Tamino says:

    These rankings are simply bovin manure.
    The organization giving the ranking requires registration for money by the institutions.
    Many don‘t even bother to participate. Those paying premium fees get higher rankings etc.
    Schools outside the anglo-american world sometimes feel compelled to fork over the money to stay in that market that competes for international students.
    Schools who generate revenue from international students by high semester fees (not the German schools for instance) also pay for these rankings.
    In short: just ignore them. completely useless and misleading.

    • HigherEdWatch says:

      This is completely false. No institution pays to participate in the QS rankings.

      There are some methodological issues with rankings, and they don’t capture everything, but this is just factually incorrect.

      • Tamino says:

        Au contraire, you are spreading factually incorrect claims. QS is a for profit business and offers their services to higher education institutions, for… drumroll… money. And their methodology is completely intransparent (particularly with artistic institutions), as are the people behind the rankings.

        Anyway, the ranking of Curtis at #26 behind some much less excellent institutions is proof enough how silly that ranking is. If anything, it reads like a ranking of which schools have an internationally recognised brand name. Nothing to do with academic and artistic excellence per se.
        But of interest for any international customer who wants to buy a degree for higher prestige back at home, certainly.

      • Tamino says:

        …also interesting is, how QS’ client base is aligned with their rankings. E.g. lack of German schools. Of course total coincidence…

        • Chris says:

          “The organization giving the ranking requires registration for money by the institutions”

          That is a factually incorrect claim, in all fairness. The fact that institutions can purchase advertising services on QS’s websites is not the same thing as ‘requiring money to be ranked’, and it certainly isn’t the same as ‘paying for higher rankings’. It is paying for higher visibility and access to students on the rankings page, but that’s obviously not the same thing as paying to rank 10th rather than 20th, or whatever.

          • Tamino says:

            maybe not until they call you and ask you to increase your contributions to get better rankings… errr. I mean to “increase your visibility”, which then through some dubious methodology is used to define your ranking. Oh dear…

  • Clarinetrobert says:

    There are schools in and out of the top 10 list every year, but some schools are always in the top ten: Royal College of Music (London), Royal Academy of Music (London), Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien (Vienna), Conservatoire national supérieur de musique (Paris), and The Juilliard School (NY).

  • sam says:

    Academic rankings done by the British media are very predictable: one English institution will ALWAYS appear in the top 3, no matter what, when other more objective academic rankings do not show similar results.

    British rankings are very “reputation” oriented, i.e., entirely subjective, heavily influenced by whom they survey, like saying, “we asked the top 100 American orchestra presidents which music school has the best reputation”…

  • J Barcelo says:

    This rating is highly misleading. The QS website uses the very broad term “performing arts” which includes: drama, dance, and music as well. If you could get more specific using their filter and go to Music there’s no doubt the results would be different. Curtis is not known for its acting or ballet classes.

  • Couperin says:

    Go Juilliard! Also.. NYU?! I do believe their music school is STILL on the Local 802 unfair list.

  • Bruno says:

    Why “controversially”? Is this yet another of your pathologically obsessive rantings about everything in New York (the Met and Peter Gelb, Lincoln Center, Juilliard by geographical extension as it is next to the Met, the New York Times etc) being bad?

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Add to the punch list the New York Philharmonic and its music director. Jaap van Sweden inherited the mantle from Alan Gilbert.

      Thankfully, Carnegie Hall and Clive Gillinson have been spared.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      There IS an enormous and quite disproportionate bashing of New York institutions on this site.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    The ranking of Curtis 26 tells me more about the list than about the Institute.

    I suppose getting our bashing fix with ranking lists is more ethical than bashing people and institutions.

    • Tamino says:

      Curtis is seeking real talent. Others higher ranked in the list are seeking paying customers and/or some reputation they can’t earn through actual merits, and buy a higher ranking.
      That‘s the explanation for such BS lists by intransparent corrupt ranking businesses in a nutshell.

  • Kun says:

    Forget the rankings…if you went to a top rate music school, ended up with a lousy teacher and missed out fulfilling your innate potential, so what if you went to a top ranked school? Reputation means little if you don’t perform/deliver.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    The main reason one applies to a school, if they have specific musical goals in mind, is if the teacher they seek is on the faculty of that institution. Also, we do not know who creates these rankings. Back in the day (not sure this has changed), we went for the teacher for very specific reasons based on what we believed necessary for our musical development and creativity. The school and degree programs/classes followed.

  • “academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact.”

    I wonder how those are even quantified.

    And what is academic reputation… for a music school?

  • Symphony musician says:

    You can get a sense of how useful this table is in relation to music when you see Warwick University at no. 49, yet you can’t study for a degree in music at this institution!

  • Hugh Kerr says:

    No one mentions that the Glasgow Royal Conservatoire is number 3 in the world as it has been for some time, surely not English bias or neglect?!

  • Mr Right says:

    Best for what, accepting bribes from communist China? Or maybe best for sexual assault? Hmmm, or best for lying about cancer (you know who I am referencing).

  • Jack says:

    Somehow I think Curtis will survive.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    As far as performance? Its fugazi.

  • Reality Check says:

    Everyone in the US knows Curtis is tops by a considerable margin.
    This list is a total joke.

  • Singleton says:

    The various university rankings varies greatly from year to year with no consistency what so ever; and that it’s becoming increasingly impossible to rely on for benchmarking purposes; since they all have some inherent biases in their proprietary ranking algorithms it’s not even funny anymore.

  • Roberto says:

    What happened to Italy? Milan?