World University Rankings 2013-2014 spark global reaction

This year’s Times Higher Education World University Rankings have sparked reaction from some of the most widely-read news outlets across the globe.

October 3, 2013

View the THE World University Rankings 2013-2014 top 400

The BBC News website reported that “London has four universities in the top 40 of a global league table - more than any other individual city”. Although it added that only one, Imperial College London, makes the top 10.

The Los Angeles Times reported that as well as Caltech taking top spot for the third year in a row, California had three others inside the top 12: Stanford University as well as University of California, Berkeley and UCLA.  

Caltech spokeswoman Deborah Williams-Hedges attributed Caltech’s top spot to its “extraordinary faculty and their commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education”.

China’s official news agency, Xinhua, noted that it was “another strong year in general for East Asian institutions”, with China’s Peking University up one place to 45th and Tsinghua University up two places to joint 50th.

The University of Hong Kong “is one of the few leading East Asian institutions not improving its position, falling eight places to 43rd”, Xinhua said.

The South China Morning Post said HKU’s fall came a day after it “published an interview with University of Science and Technology president Tony Chan Fan-cheong, in which he warned local universities that they faced growing competition and needed to fight for more cash and support from business”.

The Times of India reported on suggestions that “improved engagement by India in the word-renowned rankings” were what prompted the nation to gain “three new entrants to the world top 400 list”, with Panjab University, IIT Delhi and IIT Kanpur making five Indian institutions in total inside the leading 400.

On the performance of the emerging Bric nations, Bloomberg noted that “no universities from India, Russia or Brazil appear in the top 200”.

Meanwhile the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Melbourne University “has lost its place in the top 30…while other Australian universities have also fallen”.

Glyn Davis, Melbourne vice-chancellor, said: “I think this is volatility based on academic reputation, which is based on international perceptions of Australia’s higher education system.”

Canada’s Globe and Mail reported that “the University of Toronto has inched back into the world’s top 20 universities…but several other Canadian schools have slipped down the tables”.

The UK’s Guardian said that “Oxford and Cambridge retained their positions as two of the world’s leading universities but some of their British rivals saw their rankings slip”.

Wendy Piatt, director of the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities, said that the UK’s higher education sector still outperformed the majority of its competitors, with 11 universities in the top 100.

“But investment in the UK still lags far behind the US, China and many other western European countries. And the global race is hotting up, with many Asian universities continuing to climb up the rankings,” she said.

The UK’s Daily Telegraph reported that the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said of the capital’s performance: “These rankings testify to London’s strength in higher education and to our lengthening lead over European rivals.”

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