Among the “Small Best Universities in the World 2017”, in the Times Higher Education rankings, Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School in Pisa ranked fifth and sixth respectively. The THE World Small Best Universities Rankings 2017 include institutions with fewer than 5.000 students judged on teaching and research in at least four areas. 

California Institute of Technology is ranked first in the global top 10, Ecole Normale Supérieure, our “twin sister” in Paris, has taken second place and another Italian university, the Università libera di Bolzano, has come bottom of the ranking of the top 10 small universities. The rankings reflect Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School (they both have fewer than 600 students) achievements as leading institutions in research and teaching quality. Smaller institutions can offer smaller classes and closer relationships with teachers; Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School are ranked as two of the best small universities in the world for literature and arts, medicine, engineering, technology, science and economics.

Focusing on Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School common strengths, which allowed them to enter the Times Higher Education top ten, we find several "best scientists" among teachers, quotes and scientific publications in prestigious journals, research collaborations with institutions and companies, spin off companies and registered patents. Analysts also point out that prospective student must pass a highly selective admission exam to Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School; students are also required to achieve high grades in their subjects and they must study at least two foreign languages. The British magazine also took in consideration the number of "Nobel prizes awarded and political minds" as a way to rank universities. Giusuè Carducci and Carlo Rubbia, Scuola Normale’s alumni have been awarded 2 Nobel Prizes in literature and physics. Giuliano Amato and Enrico Letta, past prime ministers, and neuroscientist Giulio Tononi have come from Sant’Anna School.

The Times Higher Education 2017 rankings for the best small university in the world also combined benchmarked teaching metrics to give a picture of how smaller universities can provide a better students experience and how students are generally more satisfied with the teaching at smaller institution, where there are plenty of opportunities for collaborative learning with other community students and interaction with faculty. Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School are characterized by a focus on undergraduate teaching, multidisciplinary study, and low numbers of students to ensure a better academic performance.

"The Times Higher Education 2017 rankings - commented Vincenzo Barone, director of Scuola Normale, and Pierdomenico Perata, rector of Sant'Anna School - show that our universities are close geographically and in combining excellence in education and research. Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School became even closer than we were, infact, we are now ready to announce our formal partnership. Rivalry between Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School has never existed; we are increasingly committed to academic excellence, generating effective synergy of science, applied sciences and humanities, in addition to joint study programs in politics and social science. Besides, scientific cooperation is of mutual benefit to Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School; it will prove fruitful in view of financial management of cuts in state funding for Italian public universities. We hope that the Ministry of Education, University and Research wants to support our federation in view of pursuing scientific excellence that is vital to tackle major societal challenges in the global economy, as declared "Investing in excellence – preparing for tomorrow”.

"Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School - Barone and Perata said- offer unique teaching, high quality research, and international partnerships. Scuola Normale and Sant’Anna School, together with Iuss - Pavia that has already entered the federation, should have one board of directors and shall develop joint policies. The first step to successful partnership - concluded Vincenzo Barone and Pierdomenico Perata – is the Open Days (summer 2017), a number of events which provide prospective students the opportunity to learn about the study opportunities available at Scuola Normale, Sant’Anna School and Iuss – Pavia.

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