Here we analyze how UC Irvine did in The Times Higher Education Rankings of 2015-2016.
The Times Higher Education Overall Score is based on:
Teaching (30%) (Reputation 12%, Doctorates, Students to Faculty);
Research (30%) (Reputation 18%, Income, Productivity);
International Outlook (7.5%) (Staff, Students, Research); and
Industry Income (2.5%).
As pointed out in the comments, a total of 32% of the ranking is based only on Reputation, not on quantitative evidence.
UC Irvine has an Overall Score of 57.7 out of a 100. It scored:
International Outlook 59.2
Industry Income 48.9
We do excellently in Citations, which is a true measure of Research importance. I know that we also do well in the grant funding part of research, and also the productivity part. So we have to improve on Reputation, considering we are only a 50 year old campus, and do not yet have a large stock of Noble Prize winners or members of the National Academy of Sciences. We have an excellent public relations department.
I am not sure what goes into a Teaching reputation, but, again, we have only been putting out graduates for 50 years with a slowly growing student body size. We do have a student body with international language skills and links, which will eventually help our international reputation. We also have a strong program in open online courses, and I see our University mentioned more to a national audience. With the University of California relatively fixed student to faculty ratio of around 18 it is hard to improve the staff to student ratio, except UCLA comes in at 10.3 and UCSD at 6.5, probably counting associated hospitals and institutes.
University sports are actually a part of a national reputation, and a link to alumni donations. We lack the presence of a Pac-12 level of football and other sports. I am not advocating that we acquire a football team, which distracts from academic performance. However, at televised football games there are always commercials for the teaching and research performance of the Universities. On the other hand, Cal Tech, MIT, Harvard, Princeton, U. of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Yale U., Columbia U., UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis which outrank us do not have Division 1A status (Go UC Berkeley, Stanford, and UCLA football).
There is also the publicity factor. Since US news media is centered around New York, when they need to call up an expert they appeal to those at the nearby elite Eastern schools. From an international outlook, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and Cal Tech appear on the map of California and the other campuses are somewhat hidden.
In International Outlook, the campus has many programs, and has been adding more international students. I am aware of new ones in the young Law School, and the importance of the Climate Change work in Earth System Sciences. I am also aware of our addition of many excellent international faculty. We have a good ranking in that respect.
To be among the top 15 US universities in the Times Educational Rankings, we have to improve our reputations in Teaching and Research from 40% to 80%. Since we do well in US University polls, the gap may partly be in our international reputation. Part of this will come with time for a university of our large size, but we still need to recruit the highest quality faculty including young faculty, and support them and publicize their work. We also need to recruit the highest quality graduate students to educate them and advance the important research projects here. We have to keep up our efforts to return the University of California state funding to earlier levels, both with the governor, the state legislature, and the public.