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15th Dec 2017
Falling levels of research funding and a lack of highly qualified staff are being blamed for a fall in Britain's university rankings.
The latest QS world university rankings for 2018, which were published this week, show the majority of British universities slipped down the rankings. In total 57 of the 76 UK institutions received lower ratings than the year before, even though British universities occupied four of the top eight places.
Commenting on the declines, Jack Moran, rankings auditor for QS, said: "Put simply, this year's results indicate that the UK's universities are becoming less competitive as research-driven institutions."
Meanwhile, Nick Hillman, director of the independent Higher Education Policy Institute, said: "The competitiveness of UK universities has been affected by austerity. In particular, tuition fees have been frozen for five years and research funding has not grown as fast as in some other countries."
According to QS researchers, the UK's relative performance deteriorated because of weaker research performance, with fewer research citations received from fellow academics, and weaker scores on academic reputations both at home and aboard.
However, it's argued the results are somewhat relative and indicate the rest of the world is becoming increasingly competitive.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took the top spot, followed by Stanford University and Harvard University. The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) leapfrogged the University of Cambridge into fourth place, while Oxford and University College London came in at sixth and seventh respectively.
Despite MIT retaining the number one position for the sixth year in a row, institutions in the US also showed signs of faltering, with 71 of its 147 ranked universities receiving lower scores.
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