British universities continue to dominate EU27 in World rankings

UK institutions outnumber all EU countries combined - by 16 to 1 across four surveys

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2022

Exclusive Facts4EU.Org survey of 2022 university rankings shows British institutions remain main challengers to US

There are four significant published world rankings for universities – none have any EU-based universities in the top 10, but all have at least two from the UK.

An exclusive review compiled by Facts4EU.Org of the four world rankings for higher education shows the United States continues to dominate institutions going into 2022, with never fewer than 15 and often more than half of the top 40 institutions, and with the main competition continuing to come from British universities.

The EU appears just once out of all four tables for top 20 universities in the World. The UK appears 16 times.

Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester, Kings College London, and LSE all appear

Oxford and Cambridge are always in the top 10, with UCL and Imperial always in the top 25 – and regular appearances from Edinburgh, and occasional listings for Manchester, Kings College London and the LSE reflecting the different methodologies of the rankings. The four world rankings tables are published by Times Higher Education, Quacquarelli Symonds, Shanghai Ranking Consultancy and US News & World Report.

The best continental European universities are in Switzerland – outside the EU – with only occasional appearances in the full tables from universities in Copenhagen, Paris and Munich, again reflecting the differing methodologies employed. In the four top 20 rankings there is only one solitary entry from Paris.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Top 20 World rankings

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2022 - click to enlarge

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2022 - click to enlarge

  • USA: 13
  • UK: 4
  • EU: 0.25
  • RoW: 2.75

The Top Forty rankings are:

1. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings puts Oxford at No.1 and Cambridge at No.5, with no continental European university until Zurich at No.15 and no EU university until Munich at No.32, whereas Imperial is No.12, UCL is No.18, LSE is No.27 and Edinburgh is No.30.

2. The QS World University Rankings puts Oxford at No.2 and Cambridge at No.3, with no continental European university until Zurich at No.8= and Lausanne at No.14 and no EU university until Paris Sciences et Lettres at No.44, whereas Imperial is No.7, UCL is No.8=, Edinburgh is No.16, Manchester is No.27 and Kings College London is No.35.

3. The Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Index) puts Cambridge at No.3 and Oxford at No.7, with Paris Saclay as the first EU university at No.13, whereas UCL is No.17 and Imperial No.25, before Copenhagen at No.30.

4. The US News & World Report Best Global University Ranking puts Oxford at No.5 and Cambridge at No.8, with no continental-Europe university until Zurich at No.26 and no EU university until Copenhagen at No.37, whereas UCL is No.16, Imperial No.20, Edinburgh No.32 and Kings College London No.33.

Beyond the top 10 universities (almost always US institutions other than Oxford and Cambridge) there are strong performances from Commonwealth countries Canada (Toronto), Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, Monash and NSW) and Singapore (two separate entries) to rival European institutions. From China the Tsinghua and Peking universities appear, together with Hong Kong. The European continent’s best performers are in Switzerland.


Why are UK academics so obsessed with the EU?

The scale of the US domination in higher education is truly impressive and the growing emergence of China is probably no surprise, but the continued high standing of the UK in the top 20 demonstrates the global reach and reputation of the British institutions is being maintained.

The deserved reputation of the United Kingdom was already self-evident before the 2016 EU referendum and has remained consistent since, reflecting the international attractiveness and utility of British institutions due to their reach far beyond the limits of Europe.

Attempts to portray British academia as dependent on EU membership through the availability of some research grant funding and the Erasmus programme for student exchanges were always a gross exaggeration and ignored the fact that the British institutions allowed the EU to punch above its weight in the global rankings.

While UK institutions were attractive to EU students the UK’s own students were always more interested in attending US universities and the UK’s own new Turing international student programme reflects this, being world-wide rather than Europe focussed.

Now that the UK is represented in its own right it has not diminished but has continued to prosper, not because it is inward looking or has erected barriers but because it has always looked over the horizon and been open to the world.

The lesson for trade is no different and politicians who veer towards protectionism should take note.

The Facts4EU team

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[ Sources: Times Higher Education | Quacquarelli Symonds | Shanghai Ranking Consultancy | US News & World Report ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Tues 04 Jan 2022

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