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London’s leading universities fall in world rankings

Four respected London universities have slipped down a global league table following rows over executive pay, sub-par teaching and ‘safe space’ censorship.

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This year’s World Reputation Rankings, seen as the definitive guide to universities’ international standing, has just nine UK institutions in the top 100 – down from ten last year, with Durham falling out.

Cambridge was the top UK university, retaining its position at number four. Oxford, which had been joint-fourth last year, slipped to fifth.

King’s College London (41st) and Edinburgh (34th) slipped by one place, while the London School of Economics fell five places to 25th.

University College London fell two places to 18th and Imperial College also fell by two, to 20th.

Four respected London universities including King's College London in the global league table

Four respected London universities including King’s College London in the global league table

The rankings, compiled by Times Higher Education from a survey of 10,000 academics across the world, follow a difficult year for Britain’s elite universities.

A number of prestigious colleges scored poorly in the Government’s new Teaching Excellence Framework, which assesses the quality of teaching. 

Many campuses have also been dogged by rows over excessive pay for vice chancellors and other senior staff.

Many universities have also drawn criticism over so-called ‘snowflake’ students clamping down on free speech and demanding ‘safe spaces’ in lectures, where controversial subjects are censored.

Alan Smithers, professor of education at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘This hasn’t been a good year for the reputation of the UK’s universities, with rows about pay, safe spaces and freedom of speech. 

We need to up our game to ensure that the falls this year are not the beginning of a trend.’

Cambridge is the top UK university but number four in the world rankings

Cambridge is the top UK university but number four in the world rankings

The other UK universities ranked in the top 100 were Manchester, in joint 51st, and Warwick in joint 81st.

Oxford and Cambridge were the only non-US universities to make the top ten. The list was topped by Harvard.



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