Oxford and Cambridge ranked best universities in the world

UK takes the top two places in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for first time in the history of the league table

Tes Reporter

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The UK is home to the top two universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for the first time in the 14-year history of the league table.

The University of Oxford has held on to the number one spot for the second year in a row, while the University of Cambridge has jumped from fourth to second.

Cambridge’s rise comes at the expense of the California Institute of Technology, which was number one between 2012 and 2016, number two last year, and now shares third position with Stanford University.

A third UK institution, Imperial College London, made it into the top 10 in the eighth spot. 

Louise Richardson, Oxford’s vice-chancellor, said she was “delighted that Oxford has held its position at the top of these global rankings”.

'Relentless pursuit of excellence'

“To be judged the best university in the world for the second successive year, against a backdrop in which Britain’s role in the world is uncertain and the place of universities in society open to question, will be a great source of pride for everyone at Oxford, and, I hope, for the whole country,” said Professor Richardson.

“Success in our field is never an accident,” she added, stating that it is “achieved by a relentless pursuit of excellence, creative brilliance and a deep commitment to our enduring values".

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Cambridge's vice-chancellor, said the result confirms that the university “is among a small group of the most respected higher education institutions globally.”

“We welcome the fact that UK institutions feature so highly in this year’s rankings, demonstrating their continued importance to the country and its economy,” he added.

The proportion of state school pupils admitted to Oxbridge has grown in recent years. In 2016 more than half (58 per cent) of students who took up places at Oxford came from the state sector – the highest proportion on record. At Cambridge 62.5 per cent of acceptances were for state-school pupils, up from 62 per cent the year before. 

However, the figures are still disproportionately low compared with the 93.2 per cent of England's pupils educated in the state sector.

With England boasting some of the world's best universities, the government has tried to get them more involved in the school system – for example, by sponsoring academies or founding free schools

While Cambridge has established a university training school, last year Professor Richardson rejected the idea of Oxford setting up its own schools.

World University Rankings 2018: top 10 

2018 rank

2017 rank

University 

Country

1

1

University of Oxford

United Kingdom

2

4

University of Cambridge

United Kingdom

=3

2

California Institute of Technology

United States

=3

3

Stanford University

United States

5

5

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

United States

6

6

Harvard University

United States

7

7

Princeton University

United States

8

8

Imperial College London

United Kingdom

9

=10

University of Chicago

United States

=10

9

ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

Switzerland

=10

13

University of Pennsylvania

United States

 

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