Skip to main content

4th October 2018

Japan overtakes UK as second-most represented nation in world university rankings

Japan claims second-best for universities for the first time ever as the UK reputation diminishes in the face of a growing Asia.
Japan overtakes UK as second-most represented nation in world university rankings
Photo: Bradshaw79 @Wikimedia Commons

The UK has been surpassed for the first time ever as the second-most represented country in the 2019 world university rankings published by Times Higher Education.

Oxford and Cambridge retained the 1st and 2nd places respectively, however, the UK overall has seen its reputation diminish.

Japan claimed 103 positions on the world rankings in comparison to the UK’ s 98, making it the new, second-most represented country on the table of around 1250 universities globally.

However, there have been some stand-alone successes for the United Kingdom. University College London has made it into the top 15, with The University of Birmingham jumping 25 places, and The University of Warwick moving up 12 to joint 79th.

The University of Manchester was ranked 57th best in the world by Times Higher Education, down from joint 54th last year.

Phil Baty, Editorial Director of Global Rankings for Times Higher Education said any connection between the 2019 world university rankings and Britain’s pending withdrawal from the European Union can only be seen as speculation at this point.

“We see some individual stars in the UK this year, but the broader national data story is really one of stagnation and modest decline, with the UK taking a minor hit to its research reputation.

“We can only speculate at this stage as to any connection with Brexit — the risk, however, to the UK’s reputation and research capabilities from its separation with Europe is very real.”

Phil added that: “Maintaining world-class excellence amid cuts and creeping isolationism is simply unsustainable, especially amid intensifying global competition. Many emerging nations [are] currently placing their own universities at the heart of national economic growth strategies.”

Baty concluded that positive immigration and investment policies are crucial if UK universities are to continue to thrive on the world stage.

Asia’s representation in the world rankings has been growing steadily. Tsinghua University in China, the top Asian university, has overtaken the London School of Economics for 25th place.

The United States claimed the most positions on the table, with Stanford University listed as the most prestigious American institution and third best globally.

Times Higher Education assesses teaching, research, and international outlook.

The Times and The Sunday Times 2019 Good University Guide was also released recently. It ranked the University of Manchester 19th best in the UK and 2nd best in the North West of England. 

Josh Sandiford

Josh Sandiford

Deputy Editor

More Coverage

University round-up: new 24/7 helpline, (nearly) oldest-ever graduate, and a rise in burglaries

Read the latest news from UK universities, featuring a new 95-year-old graduate and the rollout of a new 24/7 helpline service

Students’ Union release statement in response to “Pro-Life Society” petition

The Students’ Union Exec team has released a statement outlining their legal position in regards to the creation of and affiliation with new societies

Students’ Union addresses new Freedom of Speech Act

The government’s new Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act will come into force from 1 August 2024 and aims to be a provision for freedom of speech and academic freedom across universities and Students’ Unions

Protestors converge on University Green

Protests converge at the University Green, where Students Against Tyranny met with counter-protests from groups including Manchester Leftist Action and the Socialist Worker Student Society