Four of the world’s top six universities are now found in Britain but Cambridge loses its top spot to MIT, according to new rankings published today.British universities make up four of the top six universities in the world for the first time, according to the new QS World University Rankings published today.
University of Cambridge, which was ranked top in 2011, loses its top spot to the Boston-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and ranks second, while University College London (4), University of Oxford (5) and Imperial College London (6) comprise the rest of the unprecedented British quartet.
“The UK is again the next most successful country [after the United States],” said John O’Leary of QS. “Its four universities in the top 10 and 18 in the top 100 show a system continuing to punch well above its weight.”
UCL moves up three places from seventh last year to fourth, overtaking both Oxford and Imperial as well as Yale University (7).
University of Edinburgh, which ranked in the top 20 in 2011, narrowly slips out of that bracket this year and is placed 21st. Kings College (26) and University of Bristol (28) have both risen slightly in the overall rankings this year.
The QS World University Rankings rate universities according to reputation among academics, reputation among employers, citations per faculty, staff-to-student ratios and international attractiveness.
In total, eight UK universities were in the top 50, and 18 overall in the top 100.
American universities continue to dominate the top 100 however, with 130 of the top 700 universities based in the United States.
The growing internationalisation of higher education was a major feature of this year’s rankings. In keeping with significant growth in recent years, the number of international students across the top 100 institutions rose by another 10 per cent year on year.
A boost in foreign student and staff numbers particularly contributed to the success of MIT, whose pioneering ” massively open online course ” project MITx has helped it to foster a strong international reputation.
MIT also now ranks top in 11 of the 28 subject tables produced by QS along the same criteria.
“The rise of MIT coincides with a global shift in emphasis toward science and technology”, says QS head of research Ben Sowter. “MIT perfects a blueprint that is now being followed by a new wave of cutting-edge tech-focused institutions, especially in Asia”.
Harvard University, placed third in this year’s rankings, had topped the table for six consecutive years between 2004-2009. Harvard remains the highest ranked world university according to the “reputation among academics” criterion.
There is less good news for other European universities, as France claims only two universities in the top 50 and Germany none, although Switzerland boasts two in the top 30 – ETH Zurich (13) and EPFL Lausanne (30).
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