World university rankings published


Oxford University has overtaken Cambridge in a world league table compiled by the Times Higher Education, rating it as the UK’s best, and fourth best in the world, with Cambridge behind in sixth place. Last year the universities were in joint sixth place. The league table also places Imperial College London in eighth place.

However, with just three universities in the top ten and 32 in the top 200, the UK has been overshadowed by the U.S., which has 75 in the top 200.

The California Institute of Technology was in first place. Harvard often appears at the head of such international comparisons, but this year has been pushed down into joint second place by the California Institute of Technology - a relatively small institution, with about 2,000 mostly graduate students and almost 500 staff.

In equal second place is another Californian institution, Stanford. This university has been at the heart of Silicon Valley digital developments, including being the launchpad for Google, which began as a Stanford research project.

These latest rankings include measures such as research income, staff-to-student ratio, PhDs awarded, the citation of research and it rewards those with a high proportion of international staff and students.

The rankings will raise concerns that funding cuts and the tripling of tuition fees could be damaging the UK’s international standing.

Anne Mroz, editor of Times Higher Education, said the Government has taken a massive gamble by all but abolishing the public funding of universities.

"With as many as seven million students predicted to be studying outside their home country within the next few years, and with international research collaboration at the top of government agendas, these world university rankings are more important than ever."

She said that the UK’s universities were already among the worst funded in the world.

"The Government should heed these ranking results, reflect on concerns raised about the speed and extent of its planned reforms and think again. This is a political fix for something that was never broken."

Paul Marshall, executive director of the 1994 Group of universities, said: "UK universities are facing budget cuts, despite the new fee regime. The sweeping reductions to capital grants will make it harder to invest in the facilities that make our universities world leaders."

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