Universities climb world rankings, but here’s how they score against the best

Imperial College, London's highest ranking university

Imperial College, London’s highest ranking university

London has 7 universities in the top 200 in the world and 4 of them are in the top 30. The annual rankings by Times Higher Education showed an improved performance this year with Imperial College going up a place to 8th and UCL breaking into the top 20 at 14th.

The LSE climbed 9 places to 23 and the improvement was even greater for Kings College, rising from 40 to 27th. Queen Mary broke into the top 100 at 98 and St George’s held on at 196th. The only London institution in the top 200 to fall back was Royal Holloway down to 129 from 118 last year.

The rankings are drawn up using 13 performance indicators split into 5 areas: teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income. The detailed scoring in each category and some of the statistics about each university show where London institutions are doing well and where they are not able to compete with the best in the country, currently ranked by Times Higher Education as Oxford, and the best in the world, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

In the category of teaching the judges examined data from a reputation survey and looked at the staff to student ratios at each institution.

While the score for teaching at Imperial is close to Oxford, and not that far behind at UCL, after that the gap opens up between the UK’s best and London’s other top 30 universities. Caltech has a clear lead.

University rankings teaching

UCL is London’s best perfomer in the research criteria, judged on reputation and income. None can compete with Oxford, not even Caltech.

University rankings research

There’s better news for Imperial when it comes to the influence of the research. It scores highly for citations for published work, as do all London’s top 4.

Perhaps it is not surprising that universities in London, a leading global city, should do well in the international outlook area. Imperial out-performs Oxford and UCL matches it. All 4 trounce Caltech in this category.

University rankings internat

But the area where London’s universities lag behind is in winning industry income. Involvement in innovation, invention and consulting projects is, according to the judges, becoming a core mission for academic institutions.

There’s a big gap here between the Oxford and London’s best but Caltech, home of the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is clear winner. For once, it seems, the answer really is rocket science.

Source data

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