Time Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14 revealed

Times Higher Education’s 2013-14 World University Rankings were revealed yesterday and whilst the “golden triangle” of London, Oxford and Cambridge remains strong, there is concern that cities outside the capital are at risk of losing their status as global centres of excellence in research, innovation and skill. 
The University of Oxford retains its second place ranking but shares it with Harvard University, which moves up from fourth. At the top of the rankings for the third year running is California Institute of Technology, while Stanford University slips from joint second to fourth.

The University of Cambridge (seventh) and Imperial College London (down two places to 10th) make up the UK’s three world top ten institutions.

The UK remains the world’s strongest representative in the tables outside of the dominant US, with 31 universities in the top 200. The Netherlands has 12 players, followed by Germany with 10 (down from 11 last year), France with eight, Switzerland with seven and Belgium with five (one more than last year).

Overall the UK has held firm as a nation in the tables: it retains three of the world top ten positions, seven of the top 50 and 11 in the top 100, up from ten last year. While 14 UK top 200 institutions fell this year, 14 also rose while three retained their positions.

But the results have raised concerns that power is draining from the UK regions while the “golden-triangle” of London, Oxford and Cambridge prospers.

Major universities outside the golden triangle have all taken hits – some notably over three consecutive years. The University of Manchester, ranked 48th in the world in 2011-12 has now fallen to 58th. The University of Bristol, 66th in 2011-12 is now in 79th. Sheffield, 101st in 2011-12 is 112th in 2013-14. A similar picture emerges with Aberdeen, down from 151st in 2011-12 to 188th this year, Reading (164th to 194th over three years) and Newcastle, which has fallen from 146th in 2011-12 to 198th this year.

Institutions registering falls since last year include the University of Nottingham (120th to 157th), Southampton (130th to 146th) and Warwick (124th to 141st).

In contrast “golden triangle” universities tended to perform better. Oxford (2nd) and Cambridge (7th) held their positions from last year. In London, Imperial College London slipped two places to 10th and University College London dropped four places to 21st, but the London School of Economics jumped up seven places to 32nd in the world (up from 47th in 2011-12) and King’s College London jumped 19 places to 38th.

London’s Royal Holloway, University of London rose from 119th to 102nd, while Queen Mary University of London rose from 145th to 114th.

In all London now boasts four of the world’s top 40 universities and six of the world top 200. This means London has more top 200 universities than the world’s third biggest economy, Japan (five) and South Korea (four).

The concentration of higher education power into London comes as many UK universities increasingly move to set up London bases to exploit the capital’s geographical advantages, particularly its attraction for international students. Among UK institutions from outside London with a dedicated London campus are “The University of Liverpool in London (“university at the heart of two world cities”); University of East Anglia and Coventry University (which boasts a City of London location – “a global business and financial centre”.

Loughborough University has also announced plans to open a campus on London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, opening in 2015.

What do you think of the rankings? Will they impact your university choices? Do you think they’ve got it right? Have your say in the forums.