Oxford tops the world university rankings for the eighth year in a row

The Times Higher Education (THE) has released its World University Rankings 2024, which features 1,500 institutions across 104 locations. The ranking evaluates universities on their performance in research, impact, teaching, international outlook and industry income. The University of Oxford has retained its top position for the eighth consecutive year, followed by the California Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

UK and US universities face challenges from Asian competitors

The THE ranking reveals that the overall position of the UK and US universities is declining relative to other higher education systems. The average rank of US universities has dropped from 296 in the 2019 edition to 348 in the latest table; the UK’s average rank has also fallen from 451 to 477. In contrast, the average rank of universities in China, Australia and Canada has improved.

Oxford tops the world university rankings for the eighth year in a row
Oxford tops the world university rankings for the eighth year in a row

One of the reasons for the weakening performance of the UK and US universities is the falling share of research funding relative to other countries. The US has overtaken Germany as the country with the highest amount of institutional income per academic, but its research income per academic is much lower and on the decline. The UK’s research income per academic is also lower than that of many other countries, such as France, Italy, Thailand, Turkey and Canada.

Meanwhile, China is edging closer to the top 10 and now has two institutions in the top 15 for the first time. Tsinghua University and Peking University have both surpassed several prestigious US universities, such as the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University. Japan’s University of Tokyo has also climbed 10 places to rank 29th, outperforming several UK universities, such as the University of Edinburgh, King’s College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

New metrics introduced to measure sustainability and employability

The 20th edition of the THE ranking has introduced three new metrics to assess universities on their sustainability, employment outcomes and international collaboration. These metrics are based on data from Elsevier’s Scopus database, LinkedIn and THE’s Academic Reputation Survey.

The sustainability metric measures how universities contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as reducing poverty, improving health and education, and tackling climate change. The employment outcomes metric evaluates how universities prepare their graduates for the labour market, based on their alumni’s employment rate, salary and skills. The international collaboration metric reflects how universities work with partners from different countries on research projects.

The new metrics aim to provide a more comprehensive and balanced picture of university performance, as well as to encourage universities to address global challenges and societal needs.

Top 10 universities in the world according to THE ranking

The following table shows the top 10 universities in the world according to THE ranking 2024, along with their scores in each of the five main categories:

Rank University Country Overall score Teaching score Research score Citations score Industry income score International outlook score
1 University of Oxford United Kingdom 95.6 90.5 99.6 98.0 65.5 96.4
2 California Institute of Technology United States 94.5 92.2 97.9 97.0 92.7 67.0
3 Harvard University United States 94.4 89.3 98.8 99.1 48.8 75.3
4 Stanford University United States 93.9 86.9 96.7 99.9 66.2 79.5
5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States 93.6 88.9 92.4 100 100 100
6 University of Cambridge United Kingdom 92 87 95 94 59 95
7 Princeton University United States 91 85 94 95 60 69
8 Yale University United States 90 84 91 96 44 72
9 Imperial College London United Kingdom 89 83 88 93 62 90
10 University of Chicago United States 88 82 90 92 47 64

The full results of the THE World University Rankings 2024 can be found on the THE website.

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