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QS World Uni Rankings 2016/17: UK drops amid immigration uncertainty

UK universities have slipped in the latest QS World University Rankings with immigration and funding concerns cited as causes

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The University of Cambridge has dropped out of the top 3 for the first time in a decade. Photo: Flickr

UK universities have experienced a drop in overall performance in the latest QS World University Rankings, with 38 of the 48 top 400 universities slipping.


For the first time in over a decade the University of Cambridge drops out of the top three places to 4th place, while the University of Oxford and UCL remain strong in sixth and seventh place.


Head of Research at QS, Ben Sowter, noted that an anti-immigration climate amid Brexit and long-term concerns over funding may have had an impact on the UK’s positioning this year.


“Uncertainty over research funding, immigration rules, and the ability to hire and retain the top young talent from around the world seems to be damaging the reputation of the UK’s higher education sector,” he said.  


At the higher end of the table, US institutions have held all top three places for the first time since 2004/5 with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scooping the top spot for the fifth year in a row.


Over in Asia, Singapore stays strong with NUS remaining the top-ranked Asian institution at 12th and NTU at 13th.


China is also continuing to progress. Tsinghua University rises to its highest ever position this year at 24th, Peking University is up two places to 29th and Fudan University jumped eight positions to 43rd place.


It was an interesting year for South Korea, which has added three new institutions to the top 500 count, taking it to 16 universities overall.  


Australia and Canada also had a positive year. Both countries increased their count of universities in the top 200 with nine institutions each, one more than last year.


QS Top 20 Universities 2016/17

2016 2015    
 1  1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology US
 2  3= Stanford University US
 3  2 Harvard University US
 4  3= University of Cambridge UK
 5  5 California Institute of Technology US
 6  6 Oxford University UK
 7  7 University College London UK
 8  9 ETH Zurich Switzerland
 9  8 Imperial College London UK
 10  10 University of Chicago US
 11  11 Princeton University US
 12  12 National University of Singapore Singapore
 13  13 Nanyang Technical University Singapore
 14  14 EPFL Switzerland
 15  15 Yale University US
 16  17 Cornell University US
 17  16 Johns Hopkins University US
 18  18 University of Pennsylvania US
 19  21 University of Edinburgh UK
 20  22 Columbia University US


To see the results in full click here

The QS World University Rankings considered over 3,800 institutions and of these 916 were ranked. Over 74,000 academics and over 37,000 employers contributed to the rankings and 10.3 million research papers were analysed. 

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Katie Duncan is Editor of Hotcourses Abroad and is an NCTJ-qualified journalist and University of Exeter graduate. Having worked at an English language school in the UK, as an educational consultant in Spain and as a reporter in the international education sector, she is well placed to guide you through your study abroad journey. Katie grew up in Australia, which perhaps explains her unusual reptile collection, comprising of a bearded dragon (Bill) and tortoise (Matilda).