QS university rankings are out—which dental schools top the list?

This year’s list sees a reshuffling of the world’s top dental schools, with King’s College London ranked first. (Image: Nirat.pix/Shutterstock)
TextJeremy Booth

LONDON, UK.: The higher education think tank Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) has published the tenth edition of its World University Rankings by Subject and King’s College London topped this year’s list for the subject of dentistry.

The list pits more than 1,300 universities against each other for the performance of their programmes across 48 subjects and King’s was followed by the Academisch Centrum Tandheelkunde Amsterdam in the Netherlands (the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam) and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in the US. So how did other dental schools perform, and what does the list tell us about developing trends in higher education?

This year’s list sees a reshuffling of the world’s top dental schools compared with the 2019 rankings. Last year, King’s was ranked second—together with the Academisch Centrum Tandheelkunde Amsterdam—but the university climbed to first place this year to displace 2019’s number one, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm in Sweden. QS said that King’s has a distinguished reputation in a wide range of health areas, including medicine and dentistry. Karolinska Institutet dropped to eighth place this year to come in behind its compatriot institution the University of Gothenburg.

Harvard University’s dentistry programme climbed from seventh place in 2019 to fifth place this year, and the Tokyo Medical and Dental University went from being jointly ranked at tenth place in 2019, together with the University of Washington in Seattle in the US, to being ranked sixth for dentistry in 2020. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor was ranked fifth for dentistry last year, and its climb to third place saw it jump ahead of the University of Hong Kong, which stayed at fourth place.

To round off QS’s top ten dentistry schools for 2020, the University of Bern in Switzerland and the University of California San Francisco were jointly ranked ninth.

Of the dentistry programmes ranked in the top 25 for 2020, 13 are located in Europe, eight are located in North America, three are located in Asia and one is located in South America—these numbers remain unchanged from the 2019 list. The US has the most dental programmes ranked in the top 25 on this year’s list (seven), followed by the UK (five), Sweden (three) and Switzerland (two).

Australia has two of its dental schools named in the top 50: the University of Melbourne (ranked 25th) and the University of Adelaide (ranked 28th). German dental schools also featured twice in the top 50, the University of Freiburg being ranked 44th and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München ranked 48th. The dentistry programme at New Zealand’s University of Otago in Dunedin was once again ranked 33rd.

Higher learning geographies are changing

According to QS, one of the trends outlined by this year’s overall list is the continued regression of the US higher education system. In 2018, 806 US universities made the general list and this has decreased to 769 in 2020. This trend is not evident in dentistry, however, 12 programmes in the country having made the top 50 in the last two years.

The UK has shown improvement, its universities’ rankings tending to climb rather than drop in the overall table. The country’s higher education providers improved their rankings in 306 instances this year, while 238 of them dropped.

In 2018, 806 US universities made the general list and this has decreased to 769 in 2020

The rate of improvement of universities in mainland China is slowing, according to QS, but this year’s list ranked 100 programmes in the top 50 at its mainland universities for the first time. The National University of Singapore was named the best-performing institution in Asia, and eight of its programmes ranked among the global top ten in their respective subjects.

QS said that India’s universities have begun to record improvements, and 53 programmes climbed the rankings, while 29 recorded drops. Universities in Russia also showed improvement, and there was an increase in programmes in the top 50 and top 100 in the country. QS said that the best-performing overall higher education system in Latin America is in Colombia and that the leading individual institutions on the continent are currently the National Autonomous University of Mexico, with 12 programmes in the top 50, and the University of São Paulo in Brazil, with 11 programmes in the top 50.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named the world leader in 12 subject tables, which was more than any other institution. Harvard University led the rankings in 11 subjects and the University of Oxford in eight.

QS compiles the rankings using four sources. Global surveys of academics and employers are used to assess the international reputation of individual institutions in each subject and the two further indicators assess the impact of research in the different subjects based on research citations per paper and h-indexes.

The full list of QS’s World University Rankings by Subject 2020 can be found here.