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The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020 - UK universities are struggling

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings is an annual publication which analyses the overall performance of universities worldwide. The rankings are released by the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine.

The universities are judged across a variety of different fields: teaching, research, citations, industry income and international outlook. To achieve this, 13 performance indicators have been designed to provide comprehensive comparisons.

The 2020 Times Higher Education World University Rankings table for engineering and technology subjects ranks the universities that are leading across general engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, civil engineering and chemical engineering subjects. For the 2020 ranking, the methodology has been recalibrated and the weightings of the different metrics changed to suit the individual fields, but otherwise the engineering and technology ranking uses the same performance metrics as the overall ranking. Also, this year’s table has been expanded to include 1,008 universities, up from 903 last year. For the full 2020 engineering and technology ranking, please visit the site of Times Higher Education.

The California Institute of Technology and Stanford University share first place, rising from fourth and second positions respectively. It is small wonder, therefore, that companies founded by Stanford affiliates and alumni are among the most successful entrepreneurs worldwide. These companies include e.g. Google, Nike, Netflix, and Hewlett-Packard. The University of Cambridge and Harvard University are both placed in third position, while the University of Oxford drops from first to fifth spot. UK universities have suffered declines in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, as the funding gap between the UK sector and other major higher education institutions appears to be widening. Also, there is little national investment on research and development, a strong policy pushback against global connections, which is affecting both practical global engagement and international reputation, a weakened financial sustainability of universities as a result of the pension dispute and the loss of European structural funds and European research funding in view of Brexit. Universities outside the UK, meanwhile, have seen an increase in funding: $1.21 million in Germany and $1.47 million in China. Even US public universities in the top 400 have received more funding, with their average income rising 12.5 per cent to $995,000.

In Europe, ETH Zurich moves up one place to eighth, while the highest-ranked Asian university, the National University of Singapore, drops four places to 12th. China’s Peking University is now ranked 13th, up from 14th. China has strengthened its overall representation in the rankings, occupying 81 spots, nine more than last year. Also, the top institutions in mainland China have received higher scores for citation impact and research income this year.

Germany was “poised to overtake the UK as Europe’s number one higher education nation”, owing to its increased research spending, increased focus on internationalisation and successful excellence initiative. Its technical university with the highest score is the Technical university of Munich, ranked 25th.

Australia has also received better scores in this year’s rankings, with one institution – Queensland University of Technology (151-175th position) – joining the top 200 for the first time under the current methodology.

Although it would seem that the top universities are almost entirely located in the United States and the United Kingdom, universities in Switzerland, China and Singapore have also performed exceptionally well and achieved ranks in the top 20. Mainland China has continued climbing the rankings this year and is now home to the top two universities in Asia for the first time.