UK slides down list of top universities

Times Higher Education publishes 2014 World Reputation Rankings ? the definitive list of the world’€™s 100 most prestigious universities

Times Higher Education magazine has published its 2014 World Reputation Rankings – the definitive list of the world’s 100 most prestigious universities, based on the largest invitation-only survey of senior academics.

The 2014 rankings have again highlighted an elite group of six US and UK “super-brands” that stands head and shoulders above the rest: Harvard University in first place, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in second, Stanford University third, the University of Cambridge fourth, the University of Oxford fifth and the University of California, Berkeley sixth. 

But the US has strengthened its grip on the tables: Stanford’s rise of three places from sixth last year pushes Oxford and Cambridge down a place each. And the California Institute of Technology’s rise (up two places to ninth) displaces the University of Tokyo from the top 10, the first time it has failed to secure a spot since the reputation rankings were established in 2011.

Overall, the US is the undisputed superpower when it comes to university brands, and it is gaining in strength. It takes the top three places, eight of the top 10 (up from seven last year) and 46 of the top 100 (up from 43 in 2013). Of those 46 institutions, only 14 have lost ground. 

After the US, the UK has the most top 100 representatives: 10, up from nine last year. However, its overall showing has worsened since 2011, when it had 12 representatives. The data also reveal a worrying polarisation between the “golden triangle” (London, Oxford and Cambridge) and the rest of the UK.

The University of Bristol drops out of the top 100 in 2014. It follows the University of Leeds, which did so last year, and the University of Sheffield, which lost its top 100 place in 2012. The University of Manchester exits the top 50 (from 47th in 2013 to the 51-60 band).

Eight of the UK’s 10 representatives hail from the South East’s “golden triangle”, including the country’s two entrants: London Business School and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (both joining the 91-100 band) – small, specialist institutions based in the capital. London’s strongest performers are Imperial College London (rising one place to 13th), the London School of Economics (up one place to 24th), University College London (25th) and King’s College London (one of the most improved institutions in this year’s tables, rising from the 61-70 band to joint 43rd).

Scotland’s sole representative, the University of Edinburgh, maintains its position (joint 46th).  

Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings, said: “The UK has lost three big-name universities from the list of the world’s 100 most prestigious institutions since the rankings were first published in 2011. Given how important global reputation is in attracting top international talent, collaborations and investment, this is cause for concern. The UK has some of the world’s biggest university brands: we must protect them.”

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