Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings

By David Jobbins

Three UK universities have dropped out of the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings while Australia continues to build its presence. Although the US is the country with most universities in the top 100, its performance is slipping.

The 2013 rankings, published on Tuesday, seals Harvard University’s place at the head of an élite top six of Anglo-American high-flyers that continue to move further ahead of the other leading universities.

Harvard University is followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University. Although Oxford trades places with Stanford this year, membership of the top six has remained consistent since the rankings’ first edition in 2011, with the gap between it and the chasing pack widening each year.

The World Reputation Rankings are a part of the ranking system published by Times Higher Education (THE), but do not replace the broader World University Rankings published each autumn.

Outside the US, the UK has the most representatives (nine) in the top 100, but its overall performance has weakened since 2011, when it had 12. The UK has seven universities in the top 50, with University College London up one place to 20th and the LSE up from 29th to 25th. The University of Edinburgh climbs three places to 46th and the University of Manchester has entered the global top 50 for the first time in 47th place.

But this year the University of Leeds drops out of the top 100, following the relegation in 2012 of the University of Sheffield and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings, commented: “Traditionally, the strength in depth of the UK system has been one of its most notable features. Having a large number of institutions with truly world-class standing has delivered huge returns for the sector and the wider economy.

“However, it now seems that a gap is opening up between the best and the rest, with even star institutions losing their lustre. With the coalition government attempting to introduce a ruthless market in UK higher education and concentrating increasingly scarce resources on a select few, it looks like there will be trouble ahead for UK plc.”

The US has 43 universities in the top 100, down from 45 in 2011 and 44 last year. Institutions suffering significant falls are almost exclusively public universities.

Outside the US and UK, Australia builds on its strong representation, with the four existing top 100 universities joined for the first time by Monash University (91–100 band) and the University of New South Wales (81–90 band).

Baty said: “In many ways these results show that Australia’s image among scholars around the world is catching up with the reality: until now it has tended to perform less well in the reputation rankings compared with the overall, objective World University Rankings, which come out every autumn.

“These results show how well poised Australia is to make the most of its geographical advantages: while it has strong links with the best universities in the West, it has also made the most of East Asia’s booming higher education scene. If it continues to exploit these opportunities, Australia could be a serious beneficiary of the Asian century, which is great news for its economy and competitiveness.”

Japan, the Netherlands and Germany each have five top 100 institutions, with Germany gaining a new entrant in 2013 (Freie Universität Berlin, which has entered the 91–100 band).

While Japan remains Asia’s leading nation, rivals in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are gaining ground. Although they remain in the top 50, China’s two globally-reputed universities have slipped down the ranking (Tsinghua University from 30th to 35th and Peking University from 38th to 45th).

Just 20 countries are represented in the top 100, but neither India, Ireland nor any African country appear. Brazil’s University of São Paulo, which holds its position in the 61–70 band, is the only South American institution represented.

The reputation rankings are based on a global invitation-only opinion poll carried out by Ipsos MediaCT for THE’s rankings data supplier, Thomson Reuters. Over three years, there have been 48,000 responses from senior published academics in more than 150 countries, with the 2013 survey based on 16,639 responses.

Baty says: “It is clear that no university, no matter how prestigious, can afford to be complacent in this fast-moving, information-rich global age. New forces in higher education are emerging, especially in the East Asian countries that are investing heavily in building world-class universities, so the traditional elite must be very careful. In the three years that the World Reputation Rankings have been running, we have clear evidence that the US and the UK in particular are losing ground.”

The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2013

Country Number of top 100 institutions Top institution Top institution rank
US 43 Harvard University 1
UK 9 University of Cambridge 3
Australia 6 University of Melbourne 39
Germany 5 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München  44
Japan 5 University of Tokyo 9
Netherlands 5 Delft University of Technology 51–60
France 4 Université Paris-Sorbonne 71–80
Canada 3 University of Toronto 16
Hong Kong 3 University of Hong Kong 36
Sweden 3 Karolinska Institute 61–70
Switzerland 2 ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich

=20

Republic of Korea 2 Seoul National University 41
Singapore 2 National University of Singapore 22
China 2 Tsinghua University 35
Israel 1 Hebrew University of Jerusalem 71–80
Russian Federation 1 Lomonosov Moscow State University

=50

Turkey 1 Middle East Technical University 51–60
Taiwan 1 National Taiwan University 51–60
Belgium 1 Katholieke Universiteit Leuven 71–80
Brazil 1 University of São Paulo 61–70
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