World University Rankings 2014-15

The THE World University Rankings 2014-15 suggest that underfunded Western institutions outside the elite are struggling

October 2, 2014

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Evidence is emerging of a decline in the power of US universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-15, despite the California Institute of Technology’s claim on the top spot for the fourth consecutive year.

The West Coast institution heads a top 10 for 2014-15 that still consists almost entirely of US-based universities, with only the universities of Oxford (third) and Cambridge (fifth) and Imperial College London (joint ninth) preventing a clean sweep.

But despite the fact that Harvard (second), Stanford (fourth), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (sixth), Princeton University (seventh), the University of California, Berkeley (eighth) and Yale University (joint ninth) all make the top 10, there is evidence of an overall decline for US universities, with significant losses further down the league table. This includes the University of Chicago, which slips from ninth to 11th.

The US has 74 universities in the top 200, down from 77 last year. Some 60 per cent of those institutions rank lower than they did 12 months ago, with an average fall of 5.34 places per university.

It is a similar story for Canada. While the University of Toronto retains 20th place and the University of Victoria joins the top 200 in joint 173rd place, all other Canadian top 200 universities have lost ground.

The UK, meanwhile, has lost three universities from the top 200 (the University of Reading, the University of Dundee and Newcastle University), and now has 29 top 200 institutions, down from 31.

Conversely, the leading Asian institutions continue to rise, and the continent now has 24 universities in the world top 200, four more than last year. Two Asian universities make the world top 25 (the University of Tokyo and the National University of Singapore), while six feature among the top 50.

“Western universities, in many cases starved of vital public funding, are losing ground,” said Phil Baty, THE rankings editor, who added that there was “something approaching a crisis” for US state institutions.

Philip Altbach, director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, said that the “serious hit” in funding to the “great American public universities” had major implications for US science and competitiveness.

He added that on average Canada had a better higher education system than the US, without the “peaks nor the valleys” found among the ranking positions of American universities. “[Canada’s] top universities are excellent, but could easily be even better if they had the additional funding – and probably the competitive spirit – needed,” Dr Altbach said.

In Europe, Germany gains two new top 200 representatives (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen and Technische Universität Dresden), to overtake the Netherlands as the third most represented nation behind the US and the UK.

The THE World University Rankings, powered by Thomson Reuters, use 13 performance indicators to examine universities’ strengths. For the full methodology, along with the top 400, visit

Anglo-American empire: WUR top 10 
2014-15 Rank2013-14 RankInstitutionCountry
11California Institute of TechnologyUS
2=2Harvard UniversityUS
3=2University of OxfordUK
44Stanford UniversityUS
57University of CambridgeUK
65Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUS
76Princeton UniversityUS
88University of California, BerkeleyUS
=910Imperial College LondonUK
=911Yale UniversityUS

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