The University of Cambridge was five places below, coming in in seventh, whilst Imperial College London was the only other British university to make the top ten, coming in 10th position.
Despite these successes, a number of UK universities were ranked lower than in recent years. Traditionally well-respected universities such as Manchester and Bristol fell from 48th to 58th place, and from 66th to 79th place respectively. University College London has also slipped to 21st from its position in 17th last year.
The disproportionate success of Oxbridge and the London universities, however, has led to concerns that funding and research have become too focused on this so-called “golden triangle”, which has reduced the available resources for universities in the rest of the country.
Phil Baty, editor of the rankings, commented, “On the whole, the UK has had a very stable year, with little overall change to its position behind the US as the world’s second best higher education nation. This is good news after stark evidence of decline in last year’s rankings.
“But there are still concerns for our world-leading ‘brand name’ institutions: Imperial College London, University College London plus the universities of Manchester and Bristol have all slipped to varying degrees.”
Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, which represents 24 top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, said, “The Government was right to protect research spending and talk up the importance of science and research for the future growth of the UK.”
“But investment in the UK still lags far behind the US, China and many other Western European countries. And the global race is hotting up – with many Asian universities continuing to climb up the rankings.”
Oxford students Rebecca Fynn and Rosanna Holdsworth told Cherwell, “Although we’re pleased that Oxford has done so well, it shouldn’t be at the cost of other universities’ success.”
Another student at Oxford, who wished to remain anonymous, also commented, “I don’t really care about the success of other universities. Oxford does well because they choose bright students who work hard, and spend a lot of time and money on research. We deserve to do well, and we do.”