League table published by Times Higher Education dominated by US institutions with only three UK universities in top 10
- The Guardian,
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British universities have performed poorly in an international league table of top universities which ranks Oxford and Cambridge joint sixth in the world.
The list is dominated by American institutions but China and South Korea have also scored highly after compilers placed less emphasis on "reputation and heritage" and gave more weight to objective measures including the influence of universities' research.
The league table published today by the magazine Times Higher Education (THE) is topped by Harvard. American universities take all five top places and have 72 entries in the global top 200.
Britain has three institutions in the top 10, with Imperial College London at ninth. But there are just five British universities in the top 50 – UCL is rated 22nd and Edinburgh 40th – and just 14 in the top 100.
The list contrasts sharply with a league table published last week by the careers advice company QS, in which Cambridge came top and Harvard second.
Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education's world university rankings, said the table was based on revised measures which provide an accurate and reliable picture of global higher education.
He said: "Some institutions, and even whole countries, have not come out well under the new system. Others look much better."
"Because of the change to the methodology, any movement up or down since 2009 cannot be seen as a change in performance by an individual country or institution. We do contend, however, that these tables are realistic, and so in some cases they may deliver an unpleasant wake-up call that the days of trading on reputation alone are coming to an end."
The table is dominated by English-speaking universities. The only institution in the top 20 which is not based in Britain or North America is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
Canada, which invests heavily in higher education, has nine institutions in the top 200, with the University of Toronto ranked highest at 17.
Mainland China has six institutions in the top 200, more than any other country in Asia, and overtaking Japan for the first time. Peking University is the highest-ranked Chinese institution, at 37.
Technology-focused universities are ranked highly in the list, with California Institute of Technology in second place and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) third.
The new list reflects concerns raised last week that Britain is lagging behind global competitors in its public investment in higher education. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, published last week, found the share of public spending in British higher education is 0.7% of GDP, below the OECD average of 1%, and behind the US, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Poland and Slovenia.Announcing the OECD's results in London, Andreas Schleicher, the head of its indicators and analysis division, said Finland, Canada and Japan were now major players in higher education.
Professor Steve Smith, president of the vice-chancellors' umbrella group Universities UK, last week warned the government against squeezing university funding in the comprehensive spending review next month.
"My worry is that we may be about to make decisions that fundamentally undermine our future capacity to be a globally competitive knowledge economy," he told an audience of vice-chancellors.
This year's THE university rankings are based on a revised method of measuring university performance which looks at thirteen indicators including academic citations as well as surveys which rated research and teaching quality.