‘Best-ever’ performance of British HE in QS ranking

On the tenth anniversary of its rankings, British universities notched up their “best-ever performance” in the British company QS Quacquarelli Symonds’ global rankings. And graduates of two British universities were rated the most employable in the world.

“A record six British universities make the global top 20,” said QS on releasing the QS World University Rankings®, first produced with former partner Times Higher Education in 2004 before the latter hived off with Thomson Reuters.

Dominated as always by the United States, the top 200 of QS 2014-15 ranking includes universities from 31 countries. The US has 51 universities in the top 200 followed by the United Kingdom with 29, Germany with 13, the Netherlands with 11, Canada and Japan with 10 each and Australia with eight.

The QS ranking uses six indicators – academic reputation (40%), employer reputation (10%), faculty-student ratio (20%), citations per faculty (20%), international students (5%) and international faculty (5%) – and citation data from Scopus, the database of peer-reviewed literature.

The 2014-15 list ranks 863 universities out of 3,000 considered – with more than 100 new universities added to its list of institutions.

“This year, 63,676 academic and 28,759 employer responses contributed towards the results, making both surveys the largest of their kind in the world,” said QS. “Graduates from Oxford and Cambridge were rated as the world’s most employable.” American universities totally dominated research citations.

QS head of research Ben Sowter noted the strong performance of technology-oriented, specialist institutions, which “are increasingly the focal point of a global race for innovation. With budgets from public sources increasingly coming under strain, institutions seem more focused than ever on potentially lucrative research in science, technology and medicine.”

The top 10

For the third year running, the ranking is led by America’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT. The University of Cambridge and Imperial College London are in joint second place, moving ahead of Harvard, which dropped two places to number four.

Next come the University of Oxford and University College London in joint fifth place, followed by Stanford University, California Institute of Technology or Caltech (up from 10 last year), Princeton University and Yale University (down from eight).

QS said the stress globally on high-impact scientific and technological research was the key driver of leadership in its rankings. MIT’s year-on-year citations per faculty had risen by 14%, as had those of Imperial College London, against 11% by Cambridge and 2% by Harvard, which dropped from second place last year to fourth this year.

“The average increase in this dimension amongst the top 10 was 7%. Caltech remains the world’s top university for research citations,” said QS.

“The performance of Imperial in citations per faculty has helped it become the biggest climber in the top 10, leapfrogging Harvard, University College London and Oxford to rank second equal in the world, tied with Cambridge.”

Rest of the world

In terms of regions, North America has 12 universities in the global top 20, including one Canadian institution. Following the six American institutions in the top 10 come the University of Chicago (11), University of Pennsylvania (13), Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University (tied at 14), Cornell University (19) and the University of Toronto (20).

In Asia Japan has two institutions in the top five, and Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea have one each. These top five are: National University of Singapore, which is ranked 22 globally, University of Hong Kong (28 globally), University of Tokyo (31), Seoul National University (31) and Japan’s Kyoto University (36).

There are another four Asian universities in the top 50 – Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (39), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (40), Chinese University of Hong Kong (46) and China’s Tsinghua University (47), with KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology – placed at 51.

In Europe, Britain has seven of the top 10 institutions, Switzerland two and France one. After the UK’s four universities in the top 10 come ETH Zurich at number 12 globally, King’s College London (16), University of Edinburgh (17), Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (17), Ecole normale supérieure, Paris (24) and the University of Bristol (29).

Australia has eight and New Zealand two universities in Oceania’s top 10, and Australia has five universities in the global top 50. They are Australian National University, which is ranked 25 globally, University of Melbourne (33), University of Sydney (37), University of Queensland (43) and University of New South Wales (48).

They are followed by Monash University (70), University of Western Australia (89), the University of Auckland (92), University of Adelaide (100) and University of Otago (159).

In South America, Colombia and Brazil each have three universities in the regional top 10, followed by Chile and Argentina with two each.

In the top five are Brazil’s Universidade de São Paulo, ranked 132 globally, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (167), Universidad de Buenos Aires (198), Brazil’s Universidade Estadual de Campinas (206) and Universidad de Chile (220).

And in Africa, South Africa has seven of the top 10 universities and Egypt three. They are led by the University of Cape Town, which is placed 141 globally, followed by the University of the Witwatersrand (318), American University in Cairo (360), Stellenbosch University (390) and the University of Pretoria (471 to 480).