Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings 2009

09 October 2009

Commenting on the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings which show four Russell Group universities in the top six in the world, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of The Russell Group of Universities, said:

“The broad message of these tables is clear – the leading UK research universities are held in high esteem internationally but countries like China and Korea, which are investing massively in their best institutions, are snapping at our heels.

“The precise accuracy of league tables like this can be debated but there is no mistaking the alarm bell warning that our success is at risk if we as a nation don’t take action to fight off such fierce competition.

“Being home to so many world class institutions greatly benefits the UK. Through generating new knowledge, training a skilled workforce, and sharing innovation with industry, our leading universities are key to the UK’s competitiveness and have a central role to play in helping us to emerge from recession quickly.

“The UK has been punching above its weight for some time. As a recent OECD report highlighted, our competitor countries are investing much more of both public and private money in higher education – with the UK below average in terms of total HE investment as a proportion of GDP.

“The US invests double what the UK currently spends on higher education and following enormous investment China has now overtaken the UK in terms of total research publications. Japan and Korea are both investing hugely in their leading universities and, as this table indicates, it is paying off.

“If we allow ourselves to fall behind our international rivals, we will lose our ability to attract the world class academics, vital business investment and leading international students. League table bragging rights would be the least of our worries."

Notes to editors

  1. The full Times Higher Education- QS World University rankings will be available from 9th October 2009 from www.topuniversities.com
  2. The OECD’s “Education at a Glance 2009” shows that while the UK spends a total of 1.3% of its GDP on tertiary education, the US spends 2.9%, Canada 2.7%, Korea 2.5% and Japan 1.5%. The full report is available from here: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/41/25/43636332.pdf  (page 221) 

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