Response to Times Higher Education World University Rankings

1 October 2014

In response to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015, Dr Jo Beall, British Council Director of Education and Society, said:

"These rankings show that the UK continues to punch above its weight by hosting more than one in ten of the best universities in the world, including three of the top ten. But the continuing spread of excellence around the world indicates how the global knowledge economy is changing. For the UK sector to remain a world leader, we have to become a ‘world partner’. Our established institutions are already reaching out to embrace the new emerging powerhouses; building partnerships, developing exchanges of students and researchers, and creating long-term relationships, and all of the UK’s universities need to follow this lead."

Dr Beall added "It is a tremendous asset for the UK that London is now to be recognised as the leading global centre for research excellence. The presence of world-class institutions benefits not just everyone who lives and works in London, but helps to place London as a key hub in the global knowledge economy. This means that the brightest and best around the world will continue to look to the UK as they work to tackle global challenges, and create opportunities."

Commenting on the implication of the rankings for higher education institutions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Helen Silvester, British Council Regional Director of Education in Wider Europe, said:

"The rankings show that emerging economies on the borders of the EU are steaming ahead with their ambitions to develop world class universities. The appearance of Moscow State University signals the potential for growth in international co-operation in the coming years. In Turkey, not only are there now four universities in the top 200, up from just one in 2013-14, but each institution has risen dramatically in the rankings by at least 15 places and in the case of the country’s leading institution METU by a staggering 115 places.  Coupled with the Turkish government’s commitment to expand research capacity and support greater internationalisation of higher education, this leap shows how vibrant the sector is in Turkey. There has never been a better time for the UK to build partnerships with Turkey, for example through initiatives such as the Newton Katip-Çelebi Fund."

Commenting on the implication of the rankings for higher education institutions in the Americas, John Bramwell, British Council Regional Director of Education in the Americas, said:

“The USA’s best universities continue their inexorable hold on the top slots in the listings, but there are signs that there is a falling behind in the set of universities occupying places between one hundred and two hundred – with over half of these USA universities losing more than five position points in the year. It seems that whilst the top universities consolidate their position, the next level of universities are getting left behind, and a gap is opening up. Latin America continues to be a notable absence from the top 200 despite significant investment in mobility and research strengthening programmes at national level."