Oxford, Cambridge Book Top Two Slots in Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2018

File photo: A group of graduates gather outside the Sheldonian Theatre to have their photograph taken after a graduation ceremony at Oxford University. (REUTERS)
The Oxford and Cambridge University of the United Kingdom have picked the Top Slot of #1 and #2 together for first time ever in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2018. While the University of Oxford maintained its unabated #1 ranking second year in a row, the University of Cambridge laurelled it way up to grab #2 position from #4 last year.

“We are very proud to claim the top spot in the @timeshighered World University Rankings for the second year running: http://po.st/aBxqGX”

The California Institute of Technology, US dropped from #2 to #3 while the Stanford University maintained its positioned at #3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Princeton University and Imperial College London strengthened their positions with #5, #6, #7 and #8 respectively as last year; while University of Chicago pulled down Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in an exchange of positions for #9 and #10.

Speaking about the latest survey, Professor Alan Smithers – Director of Centre for Education and Employment Research, University of Buckingham stated ‘The fears that Brexit would damage our leading universities appear to be just scaremongering.’

The current and first female Vice Chancellor of the Oxford University – Louise Richardson was under fire recently for the ‘university fat cat’ row that has brought the Pay packages of University Chief under public scrutiny. As per the ongoing debate, there are educational heads who draw coffers more than even the Prime Minister of the UK. The VC justified her £350,000 pay package and remarked the politicians propagating against VCs as ‘mendacious’ and ‘tawdry’ and their comments damaging to the education sector of the United Kingdom.

However, Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2018 bring a proud moment for the country where Educational scenario is facing a lot of political pressure and with both the Universities holding the Number One and Number Two slot first time in the 13-year history of Times Higher Education World University Rankings brings a sigh of relief to some.

Talking about India, the Top-ranked Indian Institute of Science (IISc) dropped from 201-250 club to 251-300 club while IIT Delhi and IIT Kanpur fell from 401- 500 band to 501-600 band. IIT Bombay maintained its position in 351-400 slot and IIT Kharagpur and IIT Roorkee stayed fixed in 501-600 window.

Commenting on India rankings, Editorial Director of the Times Higher Education (THE) Global Rankings Phil Baty stated “It is disappointing that India has declined in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings amid increasing global competition,” “As leading universities in other Asian territories such as China, Hong Kong and Singapore are consistently rising up the rankings, in part thanks to high and sustained levels of funding, India’s flagship Indian Institute of Science moves further away from the elite top 200.”


National rankings amplify education inequality in India

India has 39,000 colleges, 11,000 stand-alone institutions and over 760 universities—cumulatively around 51,000-strong higher educational institutions. Of all these, less than 3,000 participated—that’s just about 6% of the overall pool. Photo: HT

New Delhi: When the human resource development ministry announced the result of the second edition of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), the first thing that was discussed and written about was—the number one institution and those among the top 10 list in overall and individual segments. This is the official ranking of India’s vast higher education system by the Central government.

But beyond name calling, the national rankings underscore two big issues about India’s education system—one, how the ranking exercise has failed to garner enough support; two, it amplifies inequality in India’s education system.

In the 2017 rankings, only 2,995 institutions participated. India has 39,000 colleges, 11,000 stand-alone institutions and over 760 universities—cumulatively around 51,000-strong higher educational institutions. Of all these, less than 3,000 participated—that’s just about 6% of the overall pool.

Whether it’s due to lack of awareness, non-eligibility for not completing a specified number of years, lack of documentation or simply the fear of falling behind, the overall scenario shows that higher education needs a huge leg-up—both from the government and individual private promoters.

But the bigger problem is inequality.

Of the 100 best institutions in the overall rankings, 67 are from just eight states, including Delhi, depicting the regional imbalance in terms of the presence of top educational institutions in the country. Of the remaining, Tamil Nadu has 20 institutions, followed by Maharashtra with nine. This shows that the remaining 23 states and six Union territories do not have quality institutions.

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The inequality is not just evident among overall top institutions. Even classifications among institutions show a similar picture. For example, among best 100 universities, 40 are in three states and 60 are in six states. Like overall rankings, here too, the names of the states are familiar—with Tamil Nadu having 24 of the best 100 universities in the country, and Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi filling in for the rest.

This unequal distribution of quality institutions does contribute to some extent to inward migration to these states in general and cut-off marks for selection in these institutions touching 100% or near the perfect score, especially in particular subjects.

For example, in 2015, Delhi University became a talking point when College of Vocational Studies and Indraprastha College for Women had 100% cut-off marks for their computer science programme for general category students. Similarly, Shri Ram College of Commerce, one of the best in India, announced its cut-off at 98.25% for Economics (Honours) and 97.37% for B.Com (Honours) in the same year. In 2016, Ramjas College of Delhi University put out its first cut-off requiring the highest score of 99.25% for admission into B.Com (Honours). Come June, the situation most probably will be similar this year too.

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Like universities, the inequality is evident at the college-level too. Among the best 100 colleges in India, Tamil Nadu again has 37, Delhi has 11 and Kerala 14. To put this in perspective, 77 colleges of the top 100 are from just five states and Union territories.




UK cities nowhere in sight in world’s quality of living rankings

Vienna, Austria

Vienna’s rents and public transport costs are cheap compared with other western capitals CREDIT: REX

Vienna, Austria’s grand capital on the Danube river, has topped consulting firm Mercer’s list of cities offering the highest quality of life for the eighth year in a row, while Baghdad is again considered the worst place to live.

Meanwhile London, together with other global centres Paris, Tokyo and New York City did not even make the top 30, lagging behind most big German, Scandinavian, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian cities. The England and UK capital ranked 40th, two spots behind its French counterpart.

The survey of 231 cities helps companies and organisations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. It uses dozens of criteria such as political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.

Singapore was the highest ranked Asian city, at 25 while 29th-placed San Francisco was the United States’ highest entry. Top of the list in Africa was South Africa’s Durban at 87.

Top five cities by region
Top five cities by region

Vienna’s 1.8 million inhabitants benefit from the city’s cafe culture and museums, theatres and operas. Rents and public transport costs in the city, whose architecture is marked by its past as the centre of the Habsburg empire, are cheap compared with other western capitals.

Switzerland’s Zurich, New Zealand’s Auckland, Germany’s Munich and Canada’s Vancouver followed Vienna in the top five of most pleasant cities to live in.

Two bombs have exploded in a busy market area in central Baghdad
A busy market area in central Baghdad after an explosion  CREDIT: AFP

Baghdad was again ranked lowest in the world. Waves of sectarian violence have swept through the Iraqi capital since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Six years into Syria’s bloody war, Damascus was ranked seventh from bottom, with Bangui in the Central African Republic, Yemeni capital Sanaa, Haiti’s Port-au-Prince, Sudan’s Khartoum and Chad’s N’Djamena filling out the end of the list.


Top ten cities

  1. Vienna (Austria)
  2. Zurich (Switzerland)
  3. Auckland (New Zealand)
  4. Munich (Germany)
  5. Vancouver (Canada)
  6. Dusseldorf (Germany)
  7. Frankfurt (Germany)
  8. Geneva (Switzerland)
  9. Copenhagen (Denmark)
  10. Basel (Switzerland) and Sydney (Australia)

Bottom ten cities

231. Baghdad (Iraq)

230. Bangui (Central African Republic)

229. Sana’a (Yemen)

228. Port au Prince (Haiti)

227. Khartoum (Sudan)

226. N’djamena (Chad)

225. Damascus (Syria)

224. Brazzaville (Congo)

223. Kinshasa (Democratic Rep. of the Congo_

222. Conakry Guinea

UK ranking

40. London

45. Edinburgh

53. Birmingham and Glasgow

58. Aberdeen