British universities outshine US rivals to take top positions
Published : 08 Sep 2017, 11:00:56
British universities have fought off prestigious US rivals to take the top two spots in the world for the first time, according to the latest Times Higher Education (THE) world university rankings, released Wednesday.
The University of Oxford came in at number one for the second year in a row while Cambridge jumped three places to take number two.
Last year, Oxford became the first university outside the US to top the rankings since they began in 2003. Cambridge rose past CalTech and Stanford University to secure second place.
The rankings are based on assessments across teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. By far the biggest factor in the movement in this year's rankings has been their research income and output.
According to the rankings, Cambridge's jump to second place was due to its research income and research quality improving this year, while Caltech and Stanford were hurt by drops to their PhD-to-bachelor student ratios.
In fact, nearly all of the 62 US universities in the top 200 (more than any other nation) faced drops in their research income per academic staff member.
With uncertainty over future levels of federal research income under the current US administration, this weakening of US dominance could persist.
Equally, there are fears that the position of UK universities at the top may be short-lived: almost a quarter of Cambridge's research funding and a fifth of Oxford's comes from the European Union. The UK's exit from the EU puts that funding in jeopardy.
According to the rankings, institutions in North America, Europe and Australia are still overwhelmingly the best centres of academic research, and consequently dominate the top of the overall rankings, as shown by this global heatmap.
While 29 US institutions fell down the rankings, the top Asian universities continued to rise.
Asia's best placed university, The National University of Singapore, jumped two places to 22nd, putting it level with the University of Toronto.
The Chinese universities of Peking and Tsinghua both rose to 27th and 30th place respectively. This places Peking on a par with New York University and the University of Edinburgh.
The top 10 universities include University of Oxford (UK), University of Cambridge (UK), California Institute of Technology (USA), Stanford University (USA), MIT (USA), Harvard University (USA), Prineton University (USA), Imperial College London (UK), University of Chicago (USA), ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and University of Pennsylvania (USA).-BSS