UK universities slip down international league tables

Credit: PA

Dozens of universities in the UK are dropping down the international league table.

Of the 76 British universities on the new World University Rankings, 51 of them have slipped down the list.

However, the table, which includes 959 institutions worldwide, reveals the UK is still home to four of the world's ten best universities.

Cambridge University is the top-rated UK university, taking fifth place, compared with fourth last year.

Top ten QS World University Rankings:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • Stanford

  • Harvard

  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

  • Cambridge

  • Oxford

  • University College London

  • Imperial College London

  • Chicago

  • ETH Zurich

Oxford is in sixth place, the same position it occupied last year, while University College London (UCL) is seventh, the same as last year, and Imperial College London is eighth, up from ninth a year ago.

Overall, 16 of the 24 Russell Group universities, considered among the best in the country, have moved downwards.

University performance is based on four areas; research, teaching, employability and internationalisation.

The falls are more likely to be related to a university resources, and increasing competition from other parts of the world, rather than the impact of Brexit, say researchers.

Credit: PA

Head of Research at QS the body that produces the table, Ben Sowter said: "Though the temptation may be to attribute the UK's second year of struggle to Brexit, we would warn against doing so.

"Much of the data we collect for these tables has been collected over a five-year period, and the first year of post-Brexit internationalisation scores suggests that there has, thus far, been a minimal impact on international student and faculty rates at UK institutions.

"Of greater importance, we believe, is the continued strain on university resources, which appears to be having a deleterious impact on not just research, but also the capacity to deliver world-class teaching.

"Also of greater significance than Brexit is the simple and unavoidable truth that these rankings are a relative exercise, and the rest of the world is becoming increasingly competitive."

Dr Tim Bradshaw, acting director of the university Russell Group, said: "The UK remains a world-leader in higher education and Russell Group universities have been fundamental to this success.

"Our members continue to deliver an excellent teaching and learning experience for students. By this ranking, four of the top 10 universities in the world are Russell Group institutions," he added.