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A research university is a
university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in various Discipline (academia), academic d ...

university
that is committed to
research Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis of information to increase understanding of a topic or issue. A research project may be an expa ...

research
as a central part of its mission. They can be
public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth Engli ...
or
private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two decades from the charts. Both "In Pri ...
, and often have well-known
brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising for recognition and, importantly, to cre ...

brand
names. Undergraduate courses at many research universities are often academic rather than
vocational A vocation () is an job, occupation to which a person is especially drawn or for which they are suited, trained, or qualified. People can be given information about a new occupation through student orientation. Though now often used in non-religi ...
and may not prepare students for particular careers, but many employers value degrees from research universities because they teach fundamental
life skills Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable humans to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of life. This concept is also termed as psychosocial The psychosocial approach looks at individuals in the contex ...
such as
critical thinking Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex; several different Critical thinking#Definitions, definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skepticism, skeptical, and unbiased analysis or eval ...
. Globally, research universities are predominantly
public universities A public university or public college is a university or college that is in state ownership or receives significant Government spending, public funds through a national or subnational government, as opposed to a private university. Whether a natio ...
, with notable exceptions being the United States and Japan. Institutions of higher education that are not research universities (or do not aspire to that designation, such as
liberal arts colleges A liberal arts college or liberal arts institution of higher education is a college A college (Latin: ''collegium'') is an educational institution or a University system, constituent part of one. A college may be a academic degree, degree-aw ...
) instead place more emphasis on student instruction or other aspects of
tertiary education Tertiary education, also referred to as third-level, third-stage or post-secondary education, is the education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, be ...
, and their faculty members are under less pressure to
publish or perish "Publish or perish" is an aphorism describing the pressure to academic publishing, publish academic work in order to succeed in an academia, academic career. Such institutional pressure is generally strongest at Research university, research unive ...
. This source refers to research universities as R1, a common shorthand for the highest level of American research universities recognized by the
Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, or simply the Carnegie Classification, is a framework for classifying colleges and universities in the United States. Created in 1970, it is named after and was originally created ...
.


History

The concept of the modern research university first arose in early 19th-century Germany, where
Wilhelm von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt (, also , ; ; 22 June 1767 – 8 April 1835) was a philosopher, , , diplomat, and founder of the , which was named after him in 1949 (and also after his younger brother, , a ). He is espe ...

Wilhelm von Humboldt
championed his vision of (the unity of teaching and research), as a means of producing an education that focused on the main areas of knowledge (the natural sciences, social sciences, and
humanities Humanities are List of academic disciplines, academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with Divinity (academic discipline), divinity and referred to what is now called classic ...

humanities
) rather than on the previous goals of the university education, which was to develop an understanding of truth, beauty, and
good 125px, In many Western religions, angels are considered to be good beings and are contrasted with devils who are considered evil In most contexts, the concept of good denotes the conduct that should be preferred when posed with a choice betwee ...

good
ness. Roger L. Geiger, a historian specializing in the
history of higher education in the United States The history of higher education in the United States begins in 1636 and continues to the present time. Higher education in the United States, American higher education is known throughout the world. Colonial era Religious denominations establis ...
, has argued that "the model for the American research university was established by five of the nine
colonial colleges The colonial colleges are nine institutions of higher education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. Higher education, also called post-secondary education, third-level or tertiary education, is an o ...
chartered before the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colo ...
(
Harvard Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly tw ...

Harvard
,
Columbia Columbia may refer to: * Columbia (personification), the historical female national personification of the United States, and a poetic name for the Americas Places North America Natural features * Columbia Plateau, a geologic and geographic regio ...

Columbia
,
Yale Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
,
Princeton Princeton University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...

Princeton
, and
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
); five state universities (
Michigan Michigan () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Michigan
,
Wisconsin Wisconsin () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...
,
Minnesota Minnesota () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Minnesota
,
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a in the region of the . Of the fifty U.S. states, it has the , population, and the . is the state's largest city and the fifth with the capital in , located in the center of the state; other major metropolitan areas in ...
, and
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
); and five private institutions conceived from their inception as research universities (
MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, hi ...
,
Cornell Cornell University ( ) is a private, statutory, Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research universities in the Northeastern United Stat ...
,
Johns Hopkins Johns Hopkins (May 19, 1795 – December 24, 1873) was an American entrepreneur Entrepreneurship is the creation or extraction of value. With this definition, entrepreneurship is viewed as change, generally entailing risk beyond what is norm ...

Johns Hopkins
,
Stanford , mottoeng = "The wind of freedom blows" , type = Private university, Private research university , academic_affiliations = Association of American Universities, AAUNational Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, Space-grant , establishe ...

Stanford
, and
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...
)." The quoted sentence is Crow and Dabars' paraphrasing of Geiger's analysis. In turn, research universities were essential to the establishment of American
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (new ...
by the end of the 20th century. In particular, Columbia and Harvard were instrumental in the development of the
American film industry The cinema of the United States has had a large effect on the film industry in general since the early 20th century. The dominant style of American cinema is the classical Hollywood cinema Classical Hollywood cinema is a term used in film cr ...

American film industry
(Hollywood), MIT and Stanford were leaders in building the American
military–industrial complex The expression military–industrial complex (MIC) describes the relationship between a country's military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare ...
, and Berkeley and Stanford played a central role in the development of
Silicon Valley Silicon Valley is a region in Northern California Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the northern portion of the U.S. state of California California is a U.S ...

Silicon Valley
. Since the 1960s, American research universities—especially the leading American public research
university system A university system is a set of multiple affiliated universities and colleges that are usually geographically distributed. Typically, all member universities in a university system share a common component among all of their various names. Usually, ...
, the
University of California The University of California (UC) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university, research university system in the U.S. state of California. The system is composed of the campuses at University of Californ ...
—have served as models for research universities around the world. Today, the most prestigious research universities in North America belong to—or aspire to belong to—the
Association of American Universities The Association of American Universities (AAU) is an organization of American research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to increase ...
, a selective group of 66 major research universities in the United States and Canada.


Characteristics

John Taylor, Professor of Higher Education Management at the
University of Liverpool , mottoeng = These days of peace foster learning , established = 1881 - University College Liverpool1884 - affiliated to the federal Victoria Universityhttp://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukla/2004/4 University of Manchester Act 2004. le ...
, defines the key characteristics of successful research universities as: * "Presence of pure and applied research" * "Delivery of research-led teaching" * "Breadth of
academic disciplines An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fact is ...
" * "High proportion of
postgraduate research Postgraduate research represents a formal area of study that is recognized by a university or institute of higher learning. By definition, the notion of “postgraduate” (United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as ...
programmes" * "High levels of external income" * "An international perspective" Philip Altbach defines a different, although similar, set of key characteristics for what research universities need to become successful: * At the top of the academic hierarchy in a differentiated higher education system and receiving appropriate support * Overwhelmingly public institutions * Little competition from non-university research institutions, unless these have strong connections to the universities * More funding than other universities to attract the best staff and students and support research infrastructure * Adequate and sustained budgets * Potential for income generation from student fees and
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of ...
* Suitable facilities * Autonomy *
Academic freedom Academic freedom is a moral and legal concept expressing the conviction that the freedom of inquiry by faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy as well as the principles of academia An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; ...
A 2012
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (also known as NASEM or the National Academies) is the collective scientific national academy A national academy is an organizational body, usually operating with state financial sup ...
report defined research universities, in the American context, as having values of intellectual freedom, initiative and creativity, excellence, and openness, with such additional characteristics as: * Being large and comprehensive –
Clark Kerr Clark Kerr (May 17, 1911 – December 1, 2003) was an American professor of economics and academic administrator. He was the first chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley, Be ...
's "multiversity" * Emphasizing the undergraduate residential experience (flagged specifically as distinguishing American research universities from those in continental Europe) * Integrating
graduate education Postgraduate education (graduate education in North America) involves learning and studying for Academic degree, academic or professional degrees, academic or professional certificates, academic or professional diplomas, or other qualifications ...
with research * Having faculty engaged in research and scholarship * Conducting research at high levels * Having enlightened and bold leadership Global
university rankings College and university rankings are rankings of institutions in higher education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. Higher education, also called post-secondary education, third-level or tertiary educa ...
use metrics that primarily measure research to rank universities. Some also have criteria for inclusion based on the concept of a research university such as teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and conducting work in multiple faculties (
QS World University Rankings ''QS World University Rankings'' is an annual publication of university rankings College and university rankings are rankings of institutions in higher education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. H ...
), or teaching undergraduates, having a research output of more than 1000 research papers over 5 years, and no more than 80% of activity in a single subject area (
Times Higher Education World University Rankings ''Times Higher Education World University Rankings'' is an annual publication of university ranking College and university rankings are rankings A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is e ...
).


Worldwide distribution

The QS World University Ranking for 2021 included 1002 research universities. The region with the highest number was Europe, with 39.8%, followed by Asia Pacific with 26.7%, the US and Canada with 15.6%, Latin America with 10.8% and the Middle East and Africa with 7%. All regions except the Middle East and Africa were represented in the top 100. The largest number of new entrants to the rankings were from East Asia and Eastern Europe, followed by Southern Europe. By individual country, the US has the most institutions with 151, followed by the UK with 84, China with 51, and Germany with 45. The top 200 shows a similar pattern with the US having 45 universities, the UK 26 and Germany 12. By comparison, the
Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, or simply the Carnegie Classification, is a framework for classifying colleges and universities in the United States. Created in 1970, it is named after and was originally created ...
(2015) identifies 115 US universities as "Doctoral Universities: Highest Research Activity" and a further 107 as "Doctoral Universities: Higher Research Activity", while Altbach estimated that there were around 220 research universities in the US in 2013. The
Academic Ranking of World Universities The ''Academic Ranking of World Universities'' (''ARWU''), also known as the Shanghai Ranking, is one of the annual publications of world university rankings. The league table was originally compiled and issued by Shanghai Jiao Tong University ...

Academic Ranking of World Universities
shows a similar distribution, with 185 of their 500 ranked institutions in 2020 coming from Europe, 161 from the Americas, 149 from Asia/Oceania and 5 from Africa. Again, all regions except Africa are represented in the top 100, although the Americas are represented solely by universities from the US and Canada. The US again has the most universities from a single country, 206, followed by China with 168, the UK with 65 and Germany with 49. The top 200 shows the similar pattern: the US with 65 followed by China with 24, the UK with 20 and Germany with 10.
Times Higher Education ''Times Higher Education'' (''THE''), formerly ''The Times Higher Education Supplement'' (''THES''), is a British magazine reporting specifically on news and issues related to higher education. Ownership TPG Capital acquired TSL Education from ...
only gives a breakdown by country and only for its top 200; this again has the US top, with 62, followed by the UK with 31, Germany with 20 and the Netherlands with 13. The top 200 features one university from Africa (the
University of Cape Town The University of Cape Town (UCT) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a different conce ...
), but none from Latin America. The
U.S. News and World Report ''U.S. News & World Report'' is an American media company that publishes news, opinion, consumer advice, rankings, and analysis. Founded as a news magazine '' 2512'', a monthly news magazine published in Réunion. A news magazine is a typed ...
Best Global Universities Ranking 2021 gives numbers by country for the 1500 universities ranked from 86 countries: the US is again top, with 255, followed by China with 176 and the UK with 87. The 2020
CWTS Leiden Ranking The CWTS Leiden Ranking is an annual global university ranking College and university rankings are rankings A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is either "ranked higher than", "ranked low ...
includes 1,176 universities in the rankings from 65 countries: China tops the list for the first time, with 204, followed by the US with 198, the UK with 58 and Germany with 54.


See also

*
History of European research universities European universities date from the founding of the University of Bologna The University of Bologna ( it, Alma mater studiorum - Università di Bologna, UNIBO) is a research university A research university is a university A university ( la ...
*
List of research universities in the United States This is a list of research universities in the United States classified as Research Universities in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Research institutions are a subset of Doctorate, doctoral degree-granting instituti ...


References

{{school types Higher education Types of university or college