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:

50376Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
60424Technical University of Munich
66463Heidelberg University
120780University of Göttingen
128804University of Bonn
132837University of Freiburg
141898RWTH Aachen University
153978Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
155999University of Tübingen
1731100TU Dresden
1781115University of Cologne
1811127University of Hamburg
1851160University of Münster
2041260University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
2091273University of Würzburg
2341419University of Mainz
2631580University of Stuttgart
2781653Technische Universität Darmstadt
2861679University of Kiel
2901695Technical University of Berlin
2931728Humboldt University of Berlin
2951741University of Ulm
2961744University of Jena
3031770Free University of Berlin
3191898University of Duisburg-Essen
3241938Goethe University Frankfurt
3291980Ruhr University Bochum
3652171University of Marburg
3802258University of Konstanz
3882310University of Potsdam
4152456Leipzig University
4222504University of Bremen
4252524University of Bayreuth
4262525Bielefeld University
4302539University of Giessen
4762780University of Hanover
4952879University of Regensburg
4972886University 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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