QS World University Rankings

16 September 2014

Commenting on the QS World University Rankings, Russell Group Director General Dr Wendy Piatt, said:

“The continued success of the UK’s leading universities, as highlighted by these rankings, will require increased investment and less regulation from Government in the coming years. Other countries are pumping billions into higher education and research, particularly into their best universities – a wise investment which is now reflected in the rapid rise of these universities in worldwide rankings. The UK’s spending is far behind that of other European nations, China and the USA – our public expenditure of 0.9% of GDP on higher education is on a par with Israel and Mexico.

“With 19 universities in the top 100, the UK is second only to the US - further evidence of the efficiency and productivity of our institutions in straitened times. As the economy begins to pick up, politicians have the opportunity to increase investment in the UK’s best universities with the knock-on effect of generating growth in high-tech industries, research, cities, healthcare, jobs and education.    

“Ranking universities is fraught with difficulties so they should not be used in isolation to judge the quality of education or research at universities.”

Notes to Editors

  1. According to the OECD report Education at a Glance published last week, the UK’s total investment in higher education is 1.2% of GDP: less than half that of the USA, and below the OECD average. UK public investment in higher education is 0.9% of GDP, below the OECD and EU 21 averages, lower than Brazil, Russia and almost all European countries for which data was available. It is on a par with Israel and Mexico. Read more here.
  2. The UK’s spending on research and development as a proportion of GDP fell from 1.77% in 2011 to 1.72% in 2012. This is well below the EU average of 2.06% in 2012 (up from 2.03% in 2011), the spending of 1.98% by China (up from 1.84% in 2011) and the US investment of 2.79% (up from 2.76% in 2011). Sources: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_355583.pdf and http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=MSTI_PUB  
  3. Read our policy report Jewels in the crown: The importance and characteristics of the UK’s world-class universities

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