World university rankings published


World-class universities in the UK may collapse into global mediocrity within a generation, it is warned, as the 2012-13 Times Higher Education World University Rankings reveal clear evidence of a power shift in higher education from the West to the East.

The 2012-13 table, the world’s most comprehensive and balanced global rankings, show Oxford rising two positions to take joint second place with the elite US private institution Stanford University – above Harvard, which drops from second to fourth. The California Institute of Technology retains the top spot.

The University of Cambridge, down one place to seventh, and Imperial College London, unchanged in eighth, complete the trio of UK top 10 universities.

The UK remains the second-best represented country behind the US in the prestigious world top 200, with seven top 50 universities and 31 top 200 institutions. But overall, the UK has suffered substantial losses in stark contrast to gains for most of Asia’s leading institutions.

Key English representatives have tumbled down the rankings. Of the leading research-intensives, the University of Bristol has fallen eight places to 74th, the University of Sheffield is down nine places to joint 110th, the University of Leeds falls nine places to joint 142nd, the University of Birmingham is down 10 places to joint 158th and Newcastle University is down 34 places to joint 180th.

In Scotland, the University of Glasgow is down 37 places to 139th and the University of Aberdeen has fallen 25 places to joint 176th.

The University of St Andrews (falling from 85th to 108th) and the University of Sussex (down from 99th to 110th) have both lost their top 100 places. Meanwhile, the University of Dundee has fallen out of the top 200 into the 201-225 band on the “best of the rest” list.

Phil Baty, editor, Times Higher Education rankings, says: “Outside the golden triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge, England’s world-class universities face a collapse into global mediocrity.

“Huge investment in top research universities across Asia is starting to pay off. And while the sun rises in the East, England faces a perfect storm: falling public investment in teaching and research; hostile visa conditions discouraging the world’s top academics and students from coming here; and serious uncertainty about where our next generation of scholars will come from, with a policy vacuum surrounding postgraduate study.

“Given the seriousness of the funding cuts facing England and the strength of the competition, the tripled student tuition fees introduced this year look increasingly like a sticking plaster for an amputation.”

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings use 13 performance indicators to examine a university’s strengths in all its core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. All the information is collected, analysed and verified by global data provider Thomson Reuters.

This year’s rankings, which employ an identical methodology to the 2011-12 edition to provide clear year-on-year comparisons, offer firm evidence of a power shift from West to East in global higher education and research.

Key facts:

  • There are 24 countries in the world top 200 list – two fewer than last year
  • The highest-ranked institution outside the US and the UK is Switzerland’s ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (12th place)
  • Asia’s number one university is the University of Tokyo (27th place)
  • After the US and the UK, the Netherlands is the next best-represented nation in the top 200, with 12 institutions. However, its highest-ranked institution, Leiden University, makes only 64th place
  • Of the so-called “Bric” economies, Russia and India have no representatives in the top 200
  • Brazil’s sole top 200 institution, the University of São Paulo, jumps 20 places to joint 158th, and its sub-200 institution, the State University of Campinas, has edged closer to the top 200
  • Italy does not have a single representative in the top 200, and most of its players in the 200-400 bands have lost ground
  • Japan has five top 200 universities, more than any other Asian nation, but most of its representatives have slipped marginally down the table
  • France has seven institutions in the top 200, compared with just five last year
  • Israel is the only Middle Eastern country in the top 200: it now has three representatives, up from two last year
  • The Republic of Ireland has just two top 200 institutions – and neither makes the top 100
  • The whole of Africa has a single top 200 representative: the University of Cape Town, which has slipped from 103rd to 113th
  • Belgium has four top 200 institutions – up from three last year – and every one has improved its ranking position
  • Australia now has eight institutions in the table. Six of the eight have improved their position
  • The average top 200 US university has fallen 6.5 places; the figure for the UK is a 6.7-place decline
  • The Republic of Korea’s top 200 institutions have risen a startling 23.5 places on average; the equivalent figure for Hong Kong is an 8.5-place rise
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