Times Higher Education magazine has published its 2013 World Reputation Rankings for higher education institutes.
These annual charts are based on the largest worldwide invitation-only survey of senior academic opinion. They provide the only global index based purely on the power of university brands.
This year the rankings have again shown evidence of an elite group of six US and UK global “super-brands” which are ahead of the rest.
The group is headed by Harvard University, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University.
Although Oxford (now 4th) has swapped places with Stanford (6th) this year, the top six’s membership has remained consistent since the World Reputation Rankings’ first edition in 2011, with the gap between it and the chasing pack widening each year.
The US continues to dominate, with 43 universities in the world top 100 list. However, this is down on previous years, with 45 representatives in the top 100 in 2011 and 44 last year.
Outside the US, the UK has the most top 100 representatives with 9, but its overall showing has declined since 2011, when it had 12 representatives.
The UK has 7 top 50 universities, which have generally maintained their prestigious reputations: Cambridge holds on to third, Oxford rises two places to fourth, University College London moves up one place to 20th and the LSE goes from 29th to 25th.
The University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s only representative in the top 100, rises three places to 46th and the University of Manchester has entered the global top 50 for the first time (47th).
However, other big names have lost ground. In the 2012 rankings, the University of Sheffield and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine dropped out of the top 100 altogether, and they are joined this year by the University of Leeds.
The University of Bristol has maintained its 2012 position, but at the bottom of the table in the 91-100 group.
The evidence suggests increasing polarisation between the very best and the rest in the UK.
Phil Baty, rankings editor at Times Higher Education magazine, said, “There is some good news for the UK, but only for a handful of its elite institutions.
“Outside the chosen few, there is cause for alarm: the UK has lost three institutions from the world top 100 list since the reputation rankings were first published in 2011.”
In terms of representation in the top 100, the US and the UK are followed by Australia, which has moved ahead of Japan and the Netherlands and now has 6 representatives (up from 4 last year).
Japan, the Netherlands and Germany each have 5 top 100 institutions, with Germany gaining a new entrant in 2013 (Freie Universität Berlin, which has entered the 91-100 band). France has 4 representatives.
In total, 20 countries are represented in the World Reputation Rankings.
Mr Baty added, “A university’s reputation is subjective, but it matters deeply in today’s highly competitive global marketplace, and it has serious real-world impact, helping to attract top student and academic talent, and encouraging industrial investment and benefactions.
“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 full results are available on the Times Higher Education website. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/)