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Today the Times of London released their latest set of university rankings. Caltech, somewhat surprisingly, came first on the rankings, while the rest of the top 7 was filled out by more traditional colleges like Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Princeton, Cambridge, and MIT.While the US continues to dominate globally, the UK remains the second most well-represented country on the list, with 10 included in the top 100 — no mean feat continuing the relatively small size of the nation and the fact all of its institutions are public. However, there are signs that could change — and experts are predicting that the country’s education system could slip into “global mediocrity”.
An article in the Times’ Higher Education Supplement points out that while overall British universities have improved their scores this year, they tend to have slipped places in their rankings — last year there were 12 UK universities in the top 10, for example, and there were 14 the year before that. Some of the UK’s best universities fell notably:
Notable among those dropping down the table are the University of Bristol, falling eight places to 74th, and the University of St Andrews, sliding 23 places to 108th. The University of Leeds fell nine places to joint 142nd, and the University of Sheffield slipped nine places to joint 110th.
These universities haven’t necessarily gotten any worse. The issue is that universities in Asia and Australia have improved significantly in recent years. Notably, the effect of policy in China — a move to internationalize study and spend 4 per cent of GDP on education — is beginning to have an impact.
“Outside the golden triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge, England’s world-class universities face a collapse into global mediocrity.” Phil Baty, the editor behind the rankings, said in a statement. “Huge investment in top research universities across Asia is starting to pay off.”
The British education system has faced an economic crisis for years, and recently announced large, and deeply unpopular, reforms to tuition fees. However, university leaders fear that the reprieve provided by this income may well be hurt as the education comes under further austerity cuts.
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