Words by Hannah Morrish



Imperial has beaten Oxbridge in a new world league table, placed 5th in the “World’s Most International Universities 2017” rankings. Imperial is closely followed by University of Oxford in 6th place, University of Cambridge in 8th, University College London in 9th place and London School of Economics and Political Science in 10th place.


“The UK is one of the stand-out performers in this ranking” said Phil Baty, Times Higher Education World University Rankings editor at the Times Higher Education who revealed today that Imperial College London leads the UK on the international university stage.



The UK leads the way, having the most unis in the top 10 and 13 placed in total among the 150 institutions included in this league table. The UK actually has the highest population of international students (38%) of the 22 nations including in the rankings with LSE having an overseas student population of 70%.

This new university league table is a spin off from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016‐17, combining international data alongside the international reputation of each uni.

The first signs of a US decline in rankings


Shockingly, the US which usually dominates the top of the global rankings does not have a university in the top 20. This will undoubtedly fuel the fear of the Association of American Universities who have said that there is already a very real danger that the US as the global leader in higher education may fall behind.

The key to international success


Top of the table is ETH Zurick and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, both Swiss universities, followed by University of Hong Kong and National University of Singapore.


Baty attributed the success of these universities to having a “global outlook”, continuing “the world’s top universities attract undergraduates, postgraduates and faculty from all over the planet and collaborate on research with leading scholars and departments wherever they happen to be based. They also have a brand that is respected both locally and by leading figures spanning the global academy."


The data in Times Higher Education ranking of The World’s Most International Universities 2017 are taken from the 'international" insight of THE World University Rankings 2016‐17. Taking into account a university’s proportions of international students, international staff and journal publications with at least one international co‐author. Each of these elements is given equal weighting in calculating the score for this area. For the first time, this year’s table adds a fourth component, which makes up 25 per cent of the total score: a university’s international reputation.


Commenting on the UK’s success in this particular set of university rankings Baty said:

“Success is undoubtedly partly due to some underlying characteristics of the country – the ranking is dominated by universities in small, export-reliant countries or regions, where English is either an official language or widely spoken. But our data and conversations with universities also show that internationalisation is a key part of UK institutions’ strategies to attract the best students, scholars and staff, create the most effective and engaged teaching environments and produce the best research.”

Live or die



Since the EU referendum universities have been worried about what Brexit may mean for them if restrictions are placed on the movement of aspiring and capable students. Baty commented “the US and the UK are currently the world’s most attractive destinations for international students, and their institutions lead the world, in part, as a result of their ability to draw in the brightest and the best.”

Ultimately this could all change if immigration policy becomes too restrictive meaning UK and US universities could fall behind. Baty has predicted that major changes to the global movement of talented students and academics is set to damage the international standing of these two countries while other countries who welcome talented immigrants with open arms will strengthen.


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