Harvard most reputable university in the world – survey

US universities dominate the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings. Harvard heads an elite group of six US and UK global university “super-brands”.

Cambridge beats Oxford at the top of the world’s biggest ever global academic reputation survey by Times Higher Education magazine, but other UK institutions have taken a hit and the UK’s representation among elite 100 has shrunk.

US dominates with 44 institutions in top 100, UK next with 10, but there is clear evidence of the growing prestige of Asian institutions across the region, especially China.

Japan, Australia, Germany and Brazil, have also done well, but there are no representatives from Africa, Ireland, Russia, and India.

The annual reputation rankings, which complement the prestigious World University Rankings, are based on the world’s largest survey of academic opinion and provide a unique insight into the shifting academic prestige of institutions.

The elite group is headed by Harvard University in 1st, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2nd), the University of Cambridge (3rd), Stanford University (4th), the University of California, Berkeley (5th) and the University of Oxford (6th).

This top six super-group was identified in the first World Reputation Rankings in 2011, but the gap between the six and the chasing pack has widened since last year. The only change to the top six is that the private US institution Stanford has leapfrogged its public Californian rival, Berkeley.

Although it has slipped only one place, Berkeley heads a long list of prestigious US public universities which have seen a fall in their reputation rank this year, suggesting that widely publicised public funding cuts at such institutions have hurt their global image. University of California San Diego (in 36th) and UC Davis (44th) have both fallen six places each.

But when it comes to prestige among those who know quality in university teaching and research better than anyone – academics themselves – the US utterly dominates, with 44 universities in the world top 100 list (down from 45 last year).

Outside the US, the UK has the most top 100 representatives with 10 universities, but this has declined from 12 last year. Both Oxford (6th) and Cambridge (3rd) maintain their positions in the top six supergroup.

However, big names in the UK, including Imperial College (down from 11th to 13th), University College London (down from 19th to 21st) the University of Edinburgh (down from 45th to 49th) and the University of Bristol (81-90 to 91-100) have all suffered a fall in their reputation ranking.

The University of Sheffield, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have dropped out of the top 100 altogether.

In terms of representation in the top 100 list, the US and UK are followed by Japan and the Netherlands with five institutions each, and Germany, Australia and France with four each. In total 19 countries/regions are represented.

East Asia in general performs very well, signalling the start of a power shift from West to East. China’s two representatives in the top 100 – Tsinghua University (up from 35th to 30th) and Peking University (up from 43 to 38th) have both risen up the table.

The University of Hong Kong has entered the top 40 (to 39th from 42nd) and the National Taiwan University rose from the 81-90 band to the 61-70 band. The National University of Singapore has also climbed, from 27th to 23rd.

All of Australia’s four representatives in the top 100 have seen an increase in their reputation ranking, headed by the University of Melbourne, up from 45th to 43rd. Germany’s top universities, led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen (up from 48th to 42nd) have also enjoyed a rise in their overall prestige.

“Make no mistake, this data is uncomfortable news for the UK – our global reputation as the home of outstanding universities has been hit,” said Phil Baty, Editor, Times Higher Education Rankings. “Big names have slipped down the league table, and we have lost two institutions from the world top 100 altogether – we are now down to 10 representatives. Meanwhile all the leading Asian universities, most notably in China, are on the up.

“The messages we are sending to the world about our commitment to funding our universities, fuelled by the images of students protesting in Westminster, on top of our clampdown on overseas students, do not play well globally.”

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