Oxford and Cambridge knocked off top of global university rankings for first time

The QS World University Rankings, the most comprehensive of its kind featuring 1,500 universities, analyses a range of measures including academic reputation, employer reputation and faculty-student ratios.

This year’s league table placed Oxford as second-best in the world for academic reputation behind Harvard University in the US, with Cambridge in third place.

MIT, a science and technology-focused university in the US, has retained its crown as the world’s best university for the thirteenth year in a row.

Imperial, which previously ranked joint second with Cambridge in the overall rankings 2014, said its elevation to the UK top spot this year was partially due to its focus on sustainability.

The QS university tracker introduced three new metrics last year in deciding its rankings: sustainability, employment outcomes and international research network, measuring how universities collaborate with others across the world.

QS said that although these were given less weighting than some other metrics, it “did not make these changes lightly” and did so to “reflect the shifts in higher education” and “changing priorities of students”.

Sustainability is measured in two ways: the commitment of the institution to “the climate crisis” and how its research aligns with the climate goals of the United Nations.

Imperial has previously carried out research on Ulez and air pollution in London as well as the effect of climate change on food security.

Ben Sowter, senior vice-president of QS, said it came as the role of universities as centres for “research hubs and centres for discussions on climate responsibility cannot be overstated”.

The 2023 QS International Student Survey showed that 41 per cent of prospective students around the world are now actively researching the Environmental, Social and Governance strategies of universities.

Prof Hugh Brady, president of Imperial College London, said: “Imperial’s ranking is a testament to the quality and commitment of our entire community. 

“It is inspiring to see our students, staff, and partners come together every day to interrogate the forces that shape our world and address the challenges facing humanity and our planet.”

Search for any university with our tool:

Latest news
Related news