Response to THE World University Rankings

Friday 11 October 2013

The British Council responded today (Wednesday) to the publication of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14.

Dr Jo Beall, British Council director of Education and Society, said:
 
“It is pleasing to see that the UK continues to be exceptionally well represented in the THE World Rankings, with only the USA having more institutions, and the UK with 19 more institutions in the top 200 than the Netherlands who retain third place . The UK is the most popular destination in the world for new international higher education students, for whom these rankings are an important guide, and in the highly competitive market for the most ambitious students, it’s good to see that the UK’s excellence in research, teaching, and international outlook is so well recognised.
 
However, the continued rise of Asian institutions in the THE World Rankings cannot be ignored by the UK and other Western institutions. If the world’s higher education institutions are going to have a role in tackling the world’s problems now and in the future, they must look to internationalise, partner and collaborate with each other. Attracting students will become more challenging as new models of teaching and learning develop, and ultimately a purely competitive outlook is not going to support achieving and maintaining excellence in the 21st century.”
 
Further comment by British Council experts on the THE World Rankings in key regions:
 
On East Asia, Caroline Chipperfield, British Council Deputy Director of Education in East Asia (based in Kuala Lumpar), said
 
"Institutions in Asia continue to consolidate their position in this world rankings table.  This reinforces the region's growing excellence in this area and the significant investment emerging Asian nations are making in education - particularly higher education— in order to drive toward greater productivity, innovation, growth, and technological progress. With the University of Tokyo and National University of Singapore in the top 30 global universities and Seoul National University moving into the top 50 it is clear, universities in Asia are increasingly challenging the West’s role in leading the global market in terms of research, innovation and education excellence."
 
On India, Richard Everitt, British Council Director of Education in India (based in Delhi), said
 
“Aside from the IIT’s, one of India’s oldest universities is ranked in the top 250 and this is likely to instil greater confidence among Indian universities who, until now, shied away from providing necessary data for ranking. There is recognition among Indian policy makers that global university rankings are here to stay and are a useful tool to internationally benchmark. So it is expected that more Indian universities will participate in the global universities rankings and a good chance that many more will appear among the top 400. However, as the largest education system in the world, it still has a long way to go to make international rankings impact.”
 
On the Americas, John Bramwell, British Council Director of Education in Americas (based in Mexico City), said
 
“International rankings and other ‘lists’ appear to feature strongly in government discussions in South America about universities that they wish to engage with, as well as presenting to them the relative positioning of countries in the international HE arena.
In some countries the primary government funding agencies restrict the universities to whom they will offer scholarships for students to go to, based on institutional hierarchy rather than subject strength for example . This is a pattern of segregation often found officially or unofficially across much of Latin America.
 
“Brazil has made significant ‘purchase’ from their university in the top 200 in 2012, University of Sao Paulo (USP). The fact that USP has now dropped out of the top 200 is a disappointment to Brazil’s internationalisation profile – particularly after the success of the Science without Borders scholarship programme.
 
Latin American students looking to study overseas will Google a range of rankings, but also carry key learning towards countries that have a positive profile – not necessarily the USA for example. Promotional initiatives such as the UK’s GREAT campaign, and the role of agencies on the ground in country therefore can have a significant effect rather than rankings alone.
 
“The USA continues, of course, to lead the international rankings table, perhaps something they rather take for granted. It will be interesting however to watch the rise of the private US institutions over public ones – a trend that is already appearing in the rankings below the top 10 and may be set to continue over time.”

Notes to Editor


For more information on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14, please contact Matt de Leon or Fran Langdon on +44 (0)20 7079 9222 /timeshighereducation@vancomms.com 
 

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