Oxford and Cambridge climb to second and third in global university rankings

·2-min read

The University of Oxford has been ranked second in an international league table.

Five British universities made it to the top 20 in the QS World University Rankings – with the University of Cambridge also climbing to joint third place.

Only Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US outperformed the Oxbridge institutions.

Cambridge University
Cambridge University came joint-third (PA)

Imperial College London and University College London (UCL) also rose to seventh and joint eighth respectively, while the University of Edinburgh climbed to 16th place from 20th place last year.

Oxford – which moved up from fifth to second place – and Cambridge made gains as a result of their research impact, high levels of global collaboration and teaching capacity.

Of the 90 British universities ranked by QS, 28 have improved their position over the last year.

But two in five (40%) – a total of 36 universities – have seen their positions drop in the new table, while 22 institutions remained stable.

Ben Sowter, director of research at QS, said it was “no accident” that the most internationally collaborative universities enjoyed success in the rankings.

On the value of global collaboration, he added: “As British higher education navigates its post-Brexit future, this lesson should not be ignored.”

Mr Sowter said: “Perhaps no British research success story has captured the public imagination to the extent that the University of Oxford’s role in developing the ChAdOx1 vaccine has – and quite rightly.

“However, Oxford’s record-equalling jump in this year’s rankings is the result of the sterling work done across its entire faculty body: in the United Kingdom, only UCL has produced a higher number of academic research papers over the last five years, and no British university’s research has enjoyed a higher impact, with almost 1.5 million citations yielded on Oxford’s papers.”

Professor Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: “We are delighted to have improved our position in the QS world rankings and applaud MIT for retaining the top spot.

“We attained our position through the talent of our remarkable academics and their many collaborators around the world. The response to the pandemic this past year has amply demonstrated the importance of research universities to national and global health, wealth and well-being.”

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