AppliedHE Apologizes to and Congratulates Heidelberg University on its Rankometer Performance

On behalf of AppliedHE, I would like to apologize to the students, faculty, alumni and other valued community members and stakeholders of Heidelberg University (officially Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg). In the recently published AppliedHE Rankometer World University Rankings I failed to include Heidelberg University among the list of the world’s top-500 universities due to a data processing error. While to err is human, I am also fully aware of the consequences of this error, which removed Heidelberg University not only from the world ranking but also from the list of 37 German universities included in Rankometer. This gave the impression that Heidelberg University is not a top global nor a top German university. It is a mistake that I deeply regret and which was wholly unintentional.

To set the record straight, Heidelberg University should have been placed as 66th in the World and 3rd in Germany in Rankometer. Its Rankometer score of 463 points is based on its 64th rank in the QS World University Rankings, its 57th rank in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, its 42nd rank in the THE World University Rankings, its 202nd rank in the Leiden Rankings (PP 10%) and its 98th rank in the Webometrics Ranking Web of Universities: a strong showing across all five constituent rankings.

For Germany the correct Rankometer rankings are therefore as follows:

Ranko Score Institution
50 376 Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
60 424 Technical University of Munich
66 463 Heidelberg University
120 780 University of Göttingen
128 804 University of Bonn
132 837 University of Freiburg
141 898 RWTH Aachen University
153 978 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
155 999 University of Tübingen
173 1100 TU Dresden
178 1115 University of Cologne
181 1127 University of Hamburg
185 1160 University of Münster
204 1260 University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
209 1273 University of Würzburg
234 1419 University of Mainz
263 1580 University of Stuttgart
278 1653 Technische Universität Darmstadt
286 1679 University of Kiel
290 1695 Technical University of Berlin
293 1728 Humboldt University of Berlin
295 1741 University of Ulm
296 1744 University of Jena
303 1770 Free University of Berlin
319 1898 University of Duisburg-Essen
324 1938 Goethe University Frankfurt
329 1980 Ruhr University Bochum
365 2171 University of Marburg
380 2258 University of Konstanz
388 2310 University of Potsdam
415 2456 Leipzig University
422 2504 University of Bremen
425 2524 University of Bayreuth
426 2525 Bielefeld University
430 2539 University of Giessen
476 2780 University of Hanover
495 2879 University of Regensburg
497 2886 University of Hohenheim

In order to try and correct the mistake, AppliedHE is updating its Rankometer page to now include Heidelberg University in its ranking tables (, adding an erratum to its methodology page, issuing this public apology and correction and distributing it through AppliedHE Xtra! Xtra! and AppliedHE social media channels.

With regards to the cause of the data processing error: the algorithm used to match university names mistakenly identified the Heidelberg University as Heidelberg University (Ohio). Because of this error the Heidelberg University scored 1001 points in a number of rankings, thus lowering its Rankometer rank and excluding it from the top-500 institutions in Rankometer.

This error should have been noticed before publication of Rankometer, however it was not because only a limited share of the more than 5,000 data points used to compile Rankometer were manually re-checked. The name-matching algorithm has since been corrected to avoid recurrence of the error. I have also re-audited the Rankometer results to see if similar naming errors have occurred. I have been unable to find any further errors at this time.

Although this mistake only concerns a single institution, I am well aware that this error can undermine confidence in Rankometer and all AppliedHE evaluation tools. As the old Dutch saying goes: trust comes on foot, but leaves on horseback.  While it is no replacement for accuracy, this mistake re-enforces the need to be as transparent as possible with the use of data. Please note that the constituent ranking used to calculate the Rankometer score are also provided at

Finally, allow me to thank the person who pointed out the discrepancy concerning the University of Newcastle in Rankometer. Your vigilance and interest in Rankometer are warmly appreciated.

Should any person have any further questions about Rankometer, please do not hesitate to contact AppliedHE. I would be more than happy to respond to any such inquiries.

Pieter E. Stek, Chief Analyst

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

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