Elite universities dominate the life sciences subject ranking 2015-16

The 2016 Times Higher Education university ranking for life sciences subjects once again shows the universities of Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge, Stanford and Caltech leading the way.
October 28 2015

The 2016 university ranking for life sciences subjects, released today, once again shows the universities of Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge, Stanford and Caltech leading the way.

But in spite of US, and, to a lesser extent, UK domination in the highest ranks, German, Australian and Swiss universities have racked up an impressive performance.

Twenty-one universities in the top 100 for life sciences are in Germany, Australia or Switzerland – more than the UK’s 18 universities in the same range.


- See the best universities in the Netherlands


ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, at position 11, is the only university outside the UK or the US to appear in the top 15.

The top 20 for life sciences also includes one university not found as high in other Times Higher Education rankings: Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands.

Wageningen University specialises in life sciences and its application to social and commercial problems in areas such as agriculture, environment, food science and animal science.

The majority of top 20 positions in the life sciences ranking are taken by North American institutions. In total, 36 US and Canadian universities are in the top 100.

However, in spite of extremely competitive ranking positions, North American institutions are missing out on international students, compared with European universities.

At the best US universities for life sciences – Harvard, Stanford and Caltech – about a quarter of the student population is international. The proportion of international students at other top-ranked US institutions is as low as 15 per cent.

In comparison, Imperial College London attracts more than half its students from outside the UK. At University College London, ETH Zurich and the universities of Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge, the proportion of international students is more than 30 per cent.

The director of undergraduate studies for Imperial's Department of Life Sciences, Huw Williams, said that the courses are unique in that they teach current research ideas right from the first year of study.

Dr Williams said: "As one of the largest Life Science departments in Europe, we are able to take advantage of our diverse body of academics who are expert researchers to provide education across the whole range of Life Science disciplines, from ecology and conservation biology through cellular and molecular biology to structural biology and biophysics.

"Our curriculum and its delivery is carefully calibrated  to support able students  to become  independent, articulate scientists and we integrate into our specialised Life Science  courses the wider personal and professional skills  our students will need in their future careers. 

"Our degrees culminate in a final year where all courses are cutting edge and research driven and  informed by research being done here  at Imperial  and through our international collaborations."

University Country Rank 2015
University of Oxford UK 1
Harvard University US =2
University of Cambridge UK =2
Stanford University US 4
California Institute of Technology US 5
Imperial College London UK 6
University of California, Berkeley US 7
Princeton University US =8
Massachusetts Institute of Technology US =8
Yale University US 10
ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland 11
Columbia University US =12
University College London UK =12
University of California, Los Angeles US 14
Cornell University US 15
Wageningen University and Research Center Netherlands 16
University of Toronto Canada 17
University of Chicago US 18
University of Edinburgh UK 19
University of British Columbia Canada 20

See the full table here.

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