Shanghai 2021 ranking: Paris-Saclay University still among the world’s top 20

On 15 August 2021, Shanghai Jiao Tong University published its international ranking of universities (ARWU, Academic Ranking of World Universities). Paris-Saclay University was ranked 13th in the world and first in continental Europe, taking its rightful place among the world’s top research-intensive learning institutes.

Published on 16 August 2021

illustration Shanghai 2021 ranking: Paris-Saclay University still among the world’s top 20
© Université Paris-Saclay, Christophe Peus

This overall ranking is in line with the stellar results of Paris-Saclay University in thematic rankings published last June. For the second year in a row, Paris-Saclay University came in first in the world for mathematics and among the top 50 in no less than 11 fields. Notably, it ranks 9th for Physics (1st in Europe), 12th for Agriculture, 22nd for clinical Medicine, 29th in Telecommunications Engineering and Statistics, 30th in Biotechnology, 32nd in Automation and Control and 41st in Mechanical Engineering. The University has also made significant progress in other disciplines, for example Pharmaceutical Sciences, coming in 30th in the world, and Chemistry, taking the 49th place.  Today, with its 13th place worldwide in the general ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities) ranking, the university has sealed its reputation for excellence.

Thanks to the media coverage it generated, this ranking shows students at home and abroad – as well as academic and socio-economic players - the potential of French higher learning and research, and in particular the success of our university model.

This model has proven its worth by bringing together all the assets of the university’s faculties and institutes and working toward a common goal of collaboration and success, says Sylvie  Retailleau,  President of Paris-Saclay University. “This ranking is not an end in itself and it does not change our goals. But it does allow us to take a fresh look at French higher learning, and that is why it is a lever to attract new talent, enhance our academic teams and the socio-economic partners who work with us, and encourage all the driving forces that wish to help us improve teaching and research in France. This ranking among the world’s top 20 universities also confirms our belief in the relevance of our collective institutional trajectory.” 

Created in 2003, the Shanghai ranking distinguishes major higher learning establishments from among the more than 17,000 universities in the world. It takes six criteria into account, including the number of Nobel Laureates and Fields Medalists, Highly Cited Researchers, and papers published in Nature or Science. Paris-Saclay University boasts two Nobel Laureates and ten Fields Medalists from the Orsay School of Science and IHES (Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques), as well as 33 researchers among the most highly-cited in their fields, affiliated with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), CentraleSupélec, the CNRS, the medical school in Kremlin-Bicêtre with Gustave  Roussy, the leading European Cancer Centre, the pharmaceutical school in Châtenay-Malabry, the Orsay School of Science, and INRAE.


INRAE is a major player in life sciences at Paris-Saclay University. It is one of seven French national research bodies that partner with the higher learning institute.* About 20% of total INRAE staff work in Île-de-France (greater Paris region), that is, some  1,850 women and men in the Versailles-Grignon and Jouy-en-Josas – Antony centres. Virtually all of these researchers have academic ties to Paris-Saclay University. Often working in tandem with research professors from AgroParisTech or other organisations, their scientific output has much to do with bringing Paris-Saclay University to 12th place in the Shanghai ranking for Agricultural Sciences.

* Other research partners of Paris-Saclay University: CEA, CNRS, IHES, INRAE, INRIA, INSERM and ONERA.



Paris-Saclay University brings together ten university faculties, four grandes écoles, IHES (Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques), and two associated universities. It also has strong partnerships with six research bodies.

With a student body of 48,000, teaching and research staff of 8,100, and technical and administrative staff of 8,500, the university offers a comprehensive and varied range of Undergraduate, Master’s and PhD degrees as well as recognised Engineering degrees thanks to the reputation and commitment of its teaching staff.  

Located south of Paris in a vast area stretching across the capital to Orsay, Évry and Versailles, Paris-Saclay University benefits from a strategic geographic and socio-economic position strengthened by its international visibility. A state-of-the-art university with a focus on Science and recognised for Mathematics and Physics, but also Biological and Medical Sciences, Agriculture and Engineering, with strong ties with Human and Social Sciences, Paris-Saclay University campus is nestled in a protected natural area near Paris, in the heart of a dynamic economic hub.


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