The UK’s top universities have climbed up in global rankings, with Oxford and Cambridge rated the second and third best educational institution in the world, but US schools still dominate in engineering and technology disciplines.
According to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which claims to be the world’s most reliable source of comparative information on universities, Harvard University is the global number one, with further seven US universities making the top 10.
Oxford and Cambridge, the only non-US schools that have placed in the top 10, have both celebrated a major victory as they both have risen up – Cambridge from the fourth to second position and Oxford from the fifth to third.
However, in the engineering and technology disciplines, US universities keep ruling with MIT, Stanford, Caltech and Princeton taking the first four spots. Cambridge ranked the best from all non-US engineering schools, taking the fifth place, an improvement from last year’s sixth position.
Imperial College London, which ranked 14 in the overall scoring, took the sixth place in engineering and technology, followed by Oxford.
The Swiss Institute of Technology Zurich is the only non-English speaking school in the top 10.
"This has been a good year for the UK, with the South East 'golden triangle' of London, Oxford and Cambridge cementing its position at the heart of higher education's global elite," said Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings.
The ranking, which draws on 13 key performance indicators centred around the learning environment, volume and reputation of research activities, citations, industry income and international outlook, revealed a widening gap between the UK’s universities with the south significantly outperforming the north.
“England's top six institutions (and seven of all 11 English universities in the ranking) are all in the Oxbridge-London 'golden triangle', and these institutions will continue to draw in the leading talent from England and beyond, supply the most desirable graduates into the local workforce and attract the lion's share of business investment,” Baty said.
"Leeds and Sheffield universities both dropped out of the top 100 a few years ago, and there is no place for the flagship universities of major cities including Birmingham and Liverpool.
"There is a risk that if resources for universities become even more scarce after the election, whoever wins, the rich of the South East will keep getting richer at the expense of the rest of the country.
The results show that for the fifth consecutive year there is an elite group of six US and UK ‘super brands’, the authors suggested, which are ‘head and shoulders above the rest.’
"While rankings cannot provide a complete picture of the whole university sector, and there is an obvious element of subjectivity when it comes to reputation, it is clear that the UK continues to excel in this area,” said Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK. “By any international measure, we perform well.”
The US has the most entries in the overall top 100 with 43 universities, followed by the UK with 12 and Germany with six.
The rankings identified a major rise in the quality of Asian schools. In the engineering and technology disciplines, although no Asian university made the top 10, six placed in the top 30, with the best of them being the National University of Singapore, taking the 13th spot.
Even though the USA is still by far the dominating nation, the number of American institutions in the top 100 has dropped compared to previous years.