Oxford University beats UCL Institute of Education in research rankings

UCL Institute of Education takes 16th place in first THE World University Rankings of education, as Asian universities make strong showing

Helen Ward

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The University of Oxford is the best place for education research in the UK, coming third in the world, according to the first THE World University Rankings of education departments.

But the UCL Institute of Education in London has missed out on a top 10 place in the new rankings, published by Tes’ sister publication, Times Higher Education.

The institute, which describes itself as a “world-leading centre for research and teaching in education and social science”, was the second-highest ranking UK university for education, and came in at 16th place worldwide.

The University of Cambridge and King’s College London were the only other UK institutions ranked in the top 20, coming in at 17th and 18th place respectively.

The top spot in the new rankings was taken by Stanford University – home to renowned academics such as growth mindset researcher Carol Dweck, maths professor Jo Boaler and educational technology expert Dan Schwartz.

And Harvard University came second, in a table dominated by US universities.

However, the table also reveals the strength of East Asia in educational research. The University of Hong Kong comes fourth in the new tables – marking the first time an Asian university has made the top five in any THE World University Rankings table.

East Asian schools regularly top the Programme for International Student Achievement (Pisa) tables of 15-year-olds achievements in maths, reading and science.

the world university rankings of education

Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018

The rankings are based on teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. 

Phil Baty, editorial director of global rankings at THE, said: "The table reveals a much more diverse list than the overall THE World University Rankings and suggests that several universities in Asia are among the world-leaders for education research and teaching.

"Other Asian institutions also perform much more strongly in this table compared to the overall world rankings.

"The Chinese University of Hong Kong is 20th (compared to 58th overall), National Taiwan Normal University is 22nd (501-600) and Nanyang Technological University is 27th (52nd). Institutions in Japan and South Korea also feature, but mainland China does not make the cut."

Australia is also a top performer, with three institutions in the top 30, he said.

Overall, 10 Asian universities make the top 100 list and 18 countries make the top 100, compared to just 16 nations in the world top 100.

Mr Baty called UCL's ranking, behind Oxford, a "notable finding". He said: "Oxford achieves higher scores than UCL on all five pillars underlying the methodology – teaching, research, citations, knowledge transfer and international outlook."

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework, published in 2014, which assesses quality of research in the UK, 48 per cent of the research at UCL IoE was considered 4* or world class.

This was the sixth highest proportion of world-class research of any education departments in the UK.

Oxford had the highest proportion, with 65 per cent. Nottingham, Durham, King’s College London, Cambridge and Durham universities all had 50 per cent or more of their research rated as world-class.

But the IoE submitted work from 219 full-time equivalent researchers to the exercise, whereas the universities ranked above it all had fewer than 40 researchers assessed.

THE also published university rankings of teaching and research in social science, law and business and economics today.

A UCL spokesperson said: “Different institutional and subject rankings employ different methodologies. The UCL Institute of Education tends to perform exceptionally well in international subject rankings – in 2017 it was placed first for education for the fourth year in a row in the QS World University Rankings. That a different methodology places us within the world top 20 for education confirms our standing as a world-leading centre for research and teaching in this field”.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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