British universities are dropping out of the international top 100, jeopardising their reputations as some of the best places in the world to study for a degree, according to research.
The Times Higher World Reputation Rankings showed a widening gulf a between the "golden triangle" institutions in London, Oxford and Cambridge and the rest of the nation.
Despite 10 UK institutions making it onto the list this year - one more than in 2013 - it is still a far cry from 2011 when 12 British universities were in the top 100.
Bristol University dropped out this year, while Leeds lost its top 100 place last year and Sheffield dropped out in 2012.
Rankings editor Phil Baty said: "The UK has lost three big-name universities from the list of the world's 100 most prestigious institutions since the rankings were first published in 2011."
He continued: "Given how important global reputation is in attracting top international talent, collaborations and investment, this is cause for concern. The UK has some of the world's biggest university brands: we must protect them."
The Prime Minster's spokesmen made clear that the PM wants a ban on gender-segregated audiences on campus even where men and women voluntarily separate themselves, but stressed that his comments did not relate to places of worship.
[The Prime Minister] does not believe that guest speakers should be allowed to address segregated audiences, so he believes that Universities UK should urgently review its guidance.
The Prime Minister believes that universities should not beallowed to segregate audiences by gender at the request of guest speakers, Downing Street has said.
Nearly £900 million of student loans were sold off today as part of a Government drive to raise money to balance the nation's books.
The mortgage-style loans, which were taken out by students who began courses between 1990 and 1998, have been sold to a debt management consortium for £160 million.
Universities Minister David Willetts said the move represents "good value for money", and would enable the Student Loans Company to concentrate on administering more recent loans.
NUS president Toni Pearce said it was "extremely concerning" that the public would be subsidising a private company to make a profit from public debt.
One of the unions supporting university staff in their second strike over pay next month has said "enough is enough".
Michael MacNeil, UCU's head of higher education, said: "Staff have suffered year-on-year cuts in the value of their pay and have made it clear that enough is enough.
"We remain committed to trying to resolve this dispute and the employers now have until 3 December to sit down and positively engage with the unions.
"If they don't, then our members and those from our sister unions will be out on strike again, as well as continuing to work to contract."
University academics and support staff will stage a second strike over pay in December, with unions claiming staff are receiving pay cuts in real terms.
UCU, Unison and Unite, all of which took part in a one-day walkout on October 31, will be joined by Scottish education union EIS on December 3.
The dispute centres on a 1% pay rise offered to university staff - including lecturers, technicians and administration workers - which the unions insist means there has been a 13% pay cut in real terms since October 2008.
But the Universities and Colleges Employers Association has said that, on top of the 1% general pay rise, many university staff get other contributions which will increase pay by 3% overall.
University academics and support staff are to stage a second national one-day strike on Tuesday December 3 in an ongoing row over pay, four unions have announced.
The number of top A-level grades fell for the second year in a row as students across the country found out their results today.Read the full story ›
Dom Anderson, Vice President of the National Union of Students, said students were reaping the benefits of going to university despite average debts of £26,000 and reports of student "poverty".
"It's completely worth it. University is a life-changing thing," Anderson told ITV News as many students found out today whether they had gained university places.
The chief executive of Ucas said students who applied late or got lower A-level grades than expected could still choose from a large selection of courses.
Mary Curnock Cook said:
We have nearly 30,000 courses which are advertising vacancies in clearing.
A lot of those will only be for people who have the very highest grades because the Government arrangements for funding mean that universities aren't limited as to how many of those they can recruit.
The reality is that there are vacancies across all sorts of courses and institutions.
So anybody who is applying late after they got their results or who didn't quite get what they wanted today, there are loads of opportunities for them to find out about what is available through our website.