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The US dominate Times World Rankings 2013-2014

Read our coverage of the Times Higher Education World Rankings for 2013-2014, including who came top and the big stories surrounding the results.

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US institutions have trumped the rest of the world in Times Higher Education’s 2013-2014 World University Rankings once more.

California Institute of Technology held on to the top spot for the third year in a row, with Harvard and Oxford coming in joint second, Stanford coming fourth and Massachusetts Institute of Technology rounding out the top five. US institutions took up almost 40% of the list of 200 universities (with 77 institutions, including 15 in the top 20); the UK offered the healthiest competition with 31 universities ranking overall despite a year of ups and downs. The Netherlands followed with 12 universities ranking, followed by Germany and France with 10 and 8 respectively.

The biggest story coming out of the rankings for UK universities was the drop-off of universities not located in the ‘golden triangle’ of Oxford, Cambridge and London. This has potentially major implications on universities located elsewhere around the country by students abroad, who place more value in these “familiar” Oxbridge and London-based institutions; as a result, students may be too quick to dismiss universities they haven't heard of before or those which aren’t located in this south east region.

In the same year as Times’ first Asia-only rankings, European universities lost ground to their counterparts in the Far East once more. However, the general consensus is that UK institutions did well considering the negative light shone on the country’s international education profile this year as a result of tighter immigration controls.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are revered among the international higher education community, and hotly anticipated each year when released. They are based on thirteen performance indicators, including reputation and staff-to-student ratio, which a university against all core missions of a modern global university.


Interview: Phil Baty (Editor of Times Higher Education)

Is there a fear that international students will see these rankings and only apply to institutions in a select area of the UK i.e. London, Oxford and Cambridge, forgoing large areas of the UK?

‘In fact, there is evidence that international students are already applying mainly to these areas. Please see the government’s latest report: International Education - Global Growth and Prosperity: An Accompanying Analytical Narrative from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Indeed, this is perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy. International Outlook is one of the indicators that these universities perform well in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14, so these international students are actually partly responsible for the institutions in these regions performing strongly in the tables.’


The US has dominated the rankings this year. Though they always do well, is it a case of “business as usual” or have you seen jumps/declines in certain areas to account for this?

‘In the US, after signs of decline at a national level last year - with public funding cuts hitting the public institutions – institutions have generally managed to hold firm against the challenge from Asia this year. This is, in part, due to an increase in its “international outlook” scores, with more international student recruitment paying off.’


What do you attribute to Europe’s fairly bad showing in this year’s rankings? Is it simply a case of Asian universities nipping at their heels?

‘Whilst the trend is not so alarming this year, it is certainly still true to say that the positions of European institutions are being challenged. 

Here, austerity cuts are clearly beginning to manifest themselves whereas, by contrast, Asian institutions – which benefit from huge amounts of investment - are marching up the tables almost without exception.

Indeed, investment attracts the best faculty, allows for the provision of facilities to attract the best students and permits the proliferation of world-class research papers, which in turn has a positive effect on an institution’s global reputation too.

Perhaps the only remaining barrier for further movement up the tables by Asia is embracing internationalisation – with greater international research collaboration and networks, and greater recruitment of international faculty and students.

Whilst this is strong in countries where English language – the language of international communications – is widely spoken, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, many East Asian nations lag far behind here.’


Read the full 2013-2014 Times Higher Education World Rankings here.


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