Seven of Israel’s university departments have been ranked among the world’s top 100 in their respective disciplines, according to the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject published on Wednesday.The 10th annual edition of the QS ranking, which assessed the performance of 86 programs at eight Israeli higher education institutions, showed an overall regression for Israel’s higher education system, compared to global competitors. Four key metrics were used to compile the rankings, evaluating programs according to academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper and the h-index – a tool to measure the productivity of an institution’s research facility. The rankings compared more than 13,100 university programs taken by students at 1,368 universities in 83 locations worldwide.Israel’s leading university is the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the research showed, with four programs ranked among the top 100 in their field. The Hebrew University’s Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies Department was named 11th best in the world – Israel’s only top-20 department. The university’s Classics and Ancient History Department was ranked 34th worldwide.A further five Israeli departments were ranked among the 51-100 bracket of global leaders: Hebrew University’s Communication and Media Studies and its Philosophy programs; Tel Aviv University’s Archaeology program; Weizmann Institute of Science’s Biological Sciences program; and the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology’s Mathematics program.According to the research, 40 of Israel’s 86 ranked programs declined in the rankings this year, while just eight improved their positions. Since 2016, the proportion of top-ranked programs held by Israeli universities has halved from 0.2% to 0.1%. A total of 37 programs remained stable within their bracket and six were new entrants into the table.Israeli institutions were recognized for their level of knowledge-production, with 60 of 86 featured departments achieving at least a score of 80/100 for research impact. The average score for graduate employability, based on employer reputation, was only 47.4/100.QS director of research Ben Sowter told The Jerusalem Post that the “major contributor” to Israel’s decline in the rankings in recent years is due to poor performance in citations per paper – the key indicator for research impact. The share of top-scoring research programs in Israel has more than halved in the past five years from 1.2% in 2016 to 0.5% in 2020, Sowter said.“Though Israel is a global leader in terms of research intensity – topping the world in 2019 when nations are ranked based on the proportion of GDP they spend on research and development – a disproportionate amount of that R & D spending is concentrated on the business sector, rather than on Israel’s universities,” Sowter explained.“Academic research shows that in 2014, Israel’s business expenditures on research and development (BERD) was almost six times as large as its higher education expenditures on research and development (HERD). By contrast, in Germany, the disparity is only a multiple of three, and, in the UK, BERD was only just over double the HERD total. While Israel is doubtless a global innovation hub, it is not clear that its universities are benefiting from that status as much as is possible,” he continued.Massachusetts Institute of Technology was ranked as the world-leader in 12 subject tables, more than any other institution. Harvard University leads in 11 subjects, and the University of Oxford leads the way in eight fields.The University of Cambridge had 38 programs ranked in the global top 10, more than any other university. Harvard University (35) and the University of Oxford (34) were ranked second and third overall for top 10 programs.