Education research firm, QS recently released the 2014 university world rankings, which revealed four UK universities to be ranked among the top five. University of Oxford and Imperial College are ranked joint second, with University of Cambridge and University College London coming joint fifth. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) remained in first place for the fourth year in a row, however Harvard University dropped to fourth place. QS base the rankings on four fundamental areas: teaching, research, internationalization and employability. Ben Sowter, who is head of QS research, stated that the top 10 universities had the best staff-student ratio, academic reputations, graduate recruitment and the best international inclusion with both students and faculty. QS also revealed that global prominence in high-impact scientific and technology research is also key to the rankings.
Imperial's position at second reflects its recent scientific research that has been globally recognised and widely cited in academic journals. Most notably is Imperial's theoretical physicist professor Sir John Pendry, who recently won the Kavli prize in nanoscience. Professor Alice Gast, Imperial's new president of Imperial College said, "rarely a day goes by when there isn't a new discovery or innovation from Imperial's talented staff, students and alumni." Since the QS rankings have been published, a decade ago, this is the UK's best performance with the likes of Edinburgh, Bristol, Chester">ManChester and Kings College London all climbing into the top 30.