For first time, British schools Nos. 1 and 2 in World University Rankings

Oxford University took the top spot in Times Higher Education's World University Rankings for 2017 -- for the second year in a row. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA

Sept. 5 (UPI) — For the first time in its 14-year history, two British universities hold the top two spots in Times Higher Education’s annual World University Rankings.

Oxford and Cambridge claim the top two slots in the rankings — with Oxford holding onto its number one position for the second year in a row, and Cambridge climbing up to take over the California Institute of Technology at No. 2.

“To be judged the best university in the world for the second successive year, against a backdrop in which Britain’s role in the world is uncertain and the place of universities in society open to question, will be a great source of pride for everyone at Oxford, and, I hope, for the whole country,” Oxford’s vice-chancellor, Louise Richardson, said.

This rise could be due to Oxford and Cambridge both seeing increases in total institutional income up 24 percent and 11 percent respectively. U.S. universities that share the third spot, Caltech and Stanford, saw institutional income drop by 23 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

However, the underlying risk of Brexit may have major consequences on Oxford and Cambridge’s funding. A key factor in funding institutions is the monetary support they receive from the European Union.

The European Union has provided many research grants to the universities. A quarter of Cambridge’s research income and a fifth of Oxford’s come in the form of EU grants. This could be potentially problematic for the future global performance of both colleges once Brexit is fully implemented.

The rankings director, Phil Baty, warns that Britain shouldn’t jeopardize the quality of its institutions.

“They are a huge national asset and one that the country can ill-afford to undermine at a time when its place in the global order is under intense scrutiny,” said Baty.


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