The United Kingdom’s top universities have suffered in this year’s QS World University Rankings, reportedly due to post-Brexit uncertainty and long-term funding concerns.
38 out of the UK’s 48 universities that made the top 400 list have dropped down in the rankings. Only 6, or 12%, have risen.
The University of Cambridge has also fallen out of the global top three for the first time since 2004, reports Aftab Ali of the Independent.
However, Cambridge, Oxford, University College London, and Imperial College London are all in the top 10. King’s College London, Edinburgh, and Manchester are in the top 30.
74% of the UK’s top-400 universities have dropped in both academic reputation and employer reputation, and 58% have dropped in international faculty members.
China, which benefits in the rankings from generous government research funding, has more universities in the top 100 than the UK for citations per faculty.
Despite this, the UK has retained its status as the world’s second-best nation for higher education, with the same numbers of top-400, top-100, and top-50 universities as last year. However, it seems that the US is stretching its lead, reports Sarah Harris of the Daily Mail, having taken all of the top three positions with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and Harvard. Asian universities are also catching up. 47% of US universities have risen through the rankings along with 68% of Asian universities.
If the focus is shifted to only London’s universities, the picture is much more positive, with more top 40 universities within its bounds than any other city in the world. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has vowed to make sure that London remains a top destination for students.
“People who come from abroad to study in London leave as ambassadors for our city, spreading the message that the capital is a fantastic place to live, work, and visit.
“I’m saying loud and clear to the world that London is open as the best place to study, do business, and innovate, and a city where all Londoners can take advantage of these opportunities.””
The performance of many other European countries has declined as well, but the UK took the worst hit.
According to Ben Sowter, head of research at QS Quacquarelli Symonds, the UK’s performance in the rankings has been negatively impacted by uncertainty for the future and long-term funding problems.
According to Sally Weale of the Guardian, he said:
“Uncertainty over research funding, immigration rules, and the ability to hire and retain top young talent from around the world seems to be damaging the reputation o the UK’s higher education sector.
The Brexit referendum actually took place after the closing of the QS surveys, but undoubtedly the debate added to the sense of uncertainty.
Sowter says that another factor is the reduced government funding for research in the UK. The chancellor’s pledge to guarantee EU-funding levels for research projects signed before the Autumn Statement is a “good step” towards tackling both factors.
The QS, a higher education think tank, began their World University Rankings 12 years ago. Their rankings are based on four categoires: research, teaching, employability of graduates, and internationalisation. The math includes academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty-student ratio, citations per faculty, international students, and international faculty.
The full list of QS World University Rankings for 2016-2017 is available online.