World university rankings: UK institutions losing ground

Irena Barker


The UK has lost three universities from the top 200 in the leading world university rankings survey.

The universities of Reading, Dundee and Newcastle all dropped off top table in the new 2014-15 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, raising concerns that the country could be losing out to emerging institutions in Asia.

Overall, Britain has 29 universities in the world top 200 – making it the second most represented nation after the US.

The University of Oxford dropped from second place to third this year, behind the California Institute of Technology in first and Harvard University in second, as the University of Cambridge climbed from seventh place to fifth.

Meanwhile, leading Asian institutions continue to rise. The continent now boasts 24 universities in the top 200, up from 20 last year. Two Asian universities now make the top 25 in the world and six make the top 50.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, published today, use 13 separate performance indicators to examine a university’s strengths against its core missions – research, knowledge transfer, international outlook and the teaching environment.

Phil Baty, the editor of Times Higher Education World University Rankings, said: “While the UK continues to punch above its weight in the global rankings, with more top-200 universities than any other nation except the US, and while the elite institutions remain highly competitive at the top of the global rankings, this new data raises a number of key concerns.

“Overall, the UK’s representation among the world’s leading universities is declining…this loss of power and influence is not good for the UK’s overall competitiveness in the global knowledge economy.

“Also, the UK’s power is increasingly concentrated in the South East of England – the five top UK institutions in the world are all from the south-east "golden triangle" of Oxford, Cambridge and London. Indeed, of the nine English universities in the world top 100, six are from London and the South East.”

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Irena Barker

Irena Barker is a freelance journalist.

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