US and UK fill top 10 places

November 9, 2007

The World University Rankings 2007 are online here

Martin Ince reveals the winners and losers in The Times Higher -QS World University Rankings 2007. The world's top ten universities are in the UK or the US, according to the annual Times Higher -QS World University Rankings published with this issue.

Harvard has emerged as the world's top university for the fourth time in succession, with Cambridge, Oxford and Yale universities all tied for second place.

The UK has four institutions in the top ten this year, compared with three last year. Imperial College London makes fifth place, up from ninth last year. University College London rose 16 places, making it to ninth place.

Princeton, California Institute of Technology, Chicago and Massachusetts Institute of Technology make up the rest of the top ten.

Overall, 32 UK universities are in the top 200. Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group of UK research-intensive universities, said the table reflected "the real strength and global impact" of UK institutions. "But we are not complacent. Our universities must continue to rise to the challenge of increasing investment by other countries in their universities," she said.

Steve Smith, chair of the 1994 Group of smaller research-led UK universities, said 11 of the group's 19 members made the 200. "Their international outlook is winning them recognition," he said.

The rankings confirm London's standing as a global academic centre. King's College London rose 22 places to 24. The London School of Economics is the most prominent university to have dropped in the rankings, down 42 places to 59th position.

Malcolm Grant, provost of UCL, said: "I am delighted that UCL's strengths have been recognised. We work hard to create an environment that is both challenging and welcoming."

Rick Trainor, principal of King's College London, said: "This confirms the growing global reputation of King's ... We take The Times Higher league table very seriously and I am extremely proud."

The LSE's fall is mainly due to changes in the methodology used by QS, The Times Higher 's partner in the rankings. The method has reduced the disproportionate effect of the LSE's high percentage of international staff and students. This is explained more fully in the rankings supplement.

The rankings are based on the opinion of 7,000 active academics and graduate recruiters, alongside quantitative data on research impact, staff and student numbers, and universities' levels of internationalisation.

The rankings confirm the modest world status of universities in continental Europe, with the top university being France's Ecole Normale Superieure in 26th place. This places continental Europe behind institutions in Canada, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong, the US and UK.

The top 200 includes four from the developing world: two in Brazil, one from Mexico and, for the first time, an African university, Cape Town, in 200th place.

A total of 28 nations have at least one institution in the 200. Virtually every university in Australia is in the rankings, with 12 representatives, while the Netherlands, with 11, emerges as continental Europe's principal power in higher education.

Several significant Asian universities have risen markedly in the table including Hong Kong, up 15 places to 18th.

According to Michael Mooney, international adviser to Waseda University in Tokyo, one of 11 Japanese universities in the 200, this total may rise in future years as university managers in Asia note the success of US, UK and Australian institutions. He said: "Across Asia, universities, as well as entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and governments, are studying and emulating the Anglo-American model. About 50 countries in the world have universities of international significance, yet only about half have one in the top 200, and only six make a showing among the top 20. I would expect this to change in the next few years, with more Asian universities in prominent positions."

DID YOU KNOW?

- The rankings were launched after Richard Lambert's report to the Treasury on university-industry links called for a means of telling whether UK universities were of world standing.

- Interest in the rankings has been high in Korea. Candidates for December's presidential election have declared that higher placings for Korean universities are among their aims for the nation.

- Gavin Brown, vice-chancellor of Sydney University, said in October 2004 that he wanted the institution to make the top 50. A week later the first edition of the rankings put Sydney at 40. Brown was deluged with requests for pay rises.

- There are more people analysing the rankings than producing them.

BRISTOL: FROM 64 TO 37

KING'S LONDON: FROM 46 TO 24

BIRMINGHAM: FROM 90 TO 65

SHEFFIELD: FROM 102 TO 68

YORK: FROM 124 TO 74

SOUTHAMPTON: FROM 141 TO 80

UCL: FROM 25 TO 9.

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