Revealed: Record as six UK universities are in world's best

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

But more UK institutions are slipping down the rankings

Education Editor

A record six UK universities are ranked in the top 20 throughout the world, according to research published today.

However, the widely respected QS World University Rankings show there is no cause for complacency - as more UK universities are slipping down the world university league table than improving their position.

Click here or on 'view gallery' to see the top universities

The results of the research show four UK institutions in the top 10 - Cambridge (the highest ranking at number three), University College London, Imperial College London and Oxford (down one slot at number 6).  The two UK newcomers to the top 20 are Edinburgh (at 17=) and Kings College London (19=).

However, the table goes on to show that, of the 45 UK universities to reach the global top 400, 29 have a lower ranking than they had at the start of the global financial crisis in 2007/8, 21 have dropped more than 10 places while just five have moved ten places higher.

In addition, when it comes to research only Cambridge remains in the global top 30 for citations with just UCL, Oxford and Imperial joining it in the top 50.  The US, by contrast, has 31 institutions in the top 50.

There were warnings from academics last night that the UK’s position could deteriorate if investment in higher education remained below the average level for OECD countries.

John O’Leary, a member of the QS Global Academic Advisory Board, said: “The UK invests below the OECD average in higher education so it is unrealistic to expect its universities to continue to punch above their weight indefinitely.

“The current success of leading institutions shows how vital it is that the Government matches the investments made by other countries in order to maintain their world-class status.”

The rankings are the first to be published to take in a full-year of the new fees regime in the UK which allows for fees of up to £9,000 a year to be charged - meaning institutions more heavily reliant on students for their income can tap into more resources.

Universities Minister David Willetts praised the findings as “fantastic news for the universities, their academics and their students who are some of the most employable in the world.”

He added: “Our reforms to undergraduate finance have put universities on a sustainable financial footing and sharpened incentives to deliver a world-class student experience.”

Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group - 17 of whose 24 institutions are in the top 100 - said the group’s focus on research and high quality teaching “means the UK performs formidably well against other nations in spite of its size”.

However, she pointed out that the UK spent far less on higher education than the US, China and other Western European countries, adding:  “If our universities are to compete in the future they need the Government to provide light-touch regulation and continued investment and to be welcoming to genuine international students.

Meanwhile, a report by Universities UK - the body which represents vice-chancellors - will today show an increase in the number of students receiving bursaries from 346,000 to 442,000 since the introduction of the new fees structure.

Nicola Dandridge, its chief executive, said: “Fees have meant that institutions can continue to provide students with the world-class education they expect from universities and continue to improve on what they can offer to students.”

The top 20 universities

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a strong emphasis on science, engineering and technological education and research.  Founded 1861.

2. Harvard University Oldest established university in the United States, dating back to 1636. Eight US presidents have been graduates and it is the alma mater for 62 living billionaires.

3. Cambridge University The UK’s highest ranking university. It grew out of an association of scholars - who were refugees from Oxford after falling out with local townsfolk - in 1209.

4. University College London UCL is the oldest constituent college of the University of London. It was the first in England to be established on an entirely secular basis to admit students regardless of their religion - and their sex.

5. Imperial College London Founded in 1907, it specialises in science, engineering, medicine and business.

6. Oxford University There is evidence of teaching here way back in 1096 - making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world.

7. Stanford University Located in California, it was founded in 1891 and named after the son of railroad magnate Leland Stanford who declared “the children of California shall be our children”

8.Yale University Founded in 1701 in New Haven, Connecticut, it has around 5,300 undergraduates and 6,100 graduates and professional students. It has educated five US presidents.

9. Chicago University The university, with about 15,000 students, is consistently rated as one of the world’s top 10 universities. It is home to the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the US.

10=. California Institute of Technology Sited in Pasadena, it places strong emphasis on science and engineering and was established in 1891.

10=. Princeton University Founded as the College of New Jersey in 1746, it adopted its present name in 1896. It specialises in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering - but does not have schools of medicine, law or business.

12. ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) The highest ranking university outside the US and UK, it specialises in engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management and is sited in Zurich.

13. University of Pennsylvania Founded by Benjamin Franklin, who advocated focussing on a practical education for commerce and public service just as highly as the classics and theology, it now offers a broad range of courses.

14. Columbia University Founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter, it is the oldest institution of higher education in the state of New York. It is famous for annually administering the Pulitzer Prize, journalism’s most prestigious award.

15. Cornell University Located in Ithaca, New York, it was founded in 1865 with the intention of teaching all fields of knowledge - a pledge contained in the motto of its founder Ezra Cornell who said: “I would fund an institution where any person can find instruction in any body.”

16. Johns Hopkins University It is a not-for-profit private research university based in Baltimore and founded in 1876 by the philanthropist of the same name. It has campuses in Italy, China and Singapore as well as the States.

17=. Edinburgh University The first UK newcomer into the top 20 and also the highest ranking Scottish university. It receives around 47,000 applications a year - making it the third most popular university in the UK by volume of applicants.

17=. Toronto University Founded by royal charter in 1827, it assumed its present name in 1850 after becoming a secular institution (it had previously been controlled by the Church of England). It is noted for its influence on the world of literary criticism and communications theory. It also first pioneered the use of insulin and stem-cell research.

19=. Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) one of two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (the other being ETH Zurich), it opened with a mission to educate engineers and scientists, be a national centre of excellence in science and technology and provide a hub for interaction between the scientific community and commerce.

19=. Kings College London  The second newcomer from the UK to the top 20, it can lay claim to being the third oldest university in England, having been founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829.

So why is MIT number one in the world university rankings?

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam