British Universities lose out to American rivals

Although vice-chancellors claim the UK is still doing well for its class, they agreed that underfunding threatens the ability of institutions to compete against the American Ivy League. Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, of which Royal Holloway is a member, has stated her concern over “our ability to sustain this level of success”.

In America, however, the table was used to suggest that the most gifted students should consider a British university as a high-quality low-cost alternative for the current economic climate.

Ms. Piatt also noted that “the endowment fund for Harvard alone was greater than the total public funding for all universities in England in any given year”. With China, India, the Middle East, Brazil and Australia investing more in universities, Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and Colleges union, praised the “impressive achievements” of British universities with less funding.

Harvard, which heads the rankings for the fifth year in a row, charges undergraduates £18,662 per annum in tuition fees, whereas the English and Northern Irish cap is at £,3145.

Compiled by the Times Higher Education magazine and QS World University rankings, the list of the worldÂ’s leading universities shows that 22 of 29 British universities in the top 200 have moved down the table in the past year.

Of note, Oxford and Cambridge, who were tied with Yale for second place last year, have fallen to third and fourth respectively. Imperial added to British woes by losing a place to sixth.

However, University College, London, was the only UK institution to improve its position in the top 10, moving from ninth to seventh.
The rankings are based on interviews with 6,354 academics and 2,339 universities as well as on additional factors including the staff-to-student ratio found in each university.

David Lammy, Minister for Higher Education, said: “Having four English universities in the global top 10 is further evidence that our higher education system is world-class.

“But we are not complacent. Excellence today is no guarantee of excellence in 10 to 15 years’ time.

“Higher education is more important to the future of our country than ever before, which is why by 2011 we will have increased funding by 30% in real terms since 1997, spending £11bn a year.”

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