London has been ranked as the world’s leading university city for the first time, but experts are concerned about the impact Brexit could have on the UK’s status as a global leader in higher education.
14 of the world’s top 500 universities fall inside of London’s boundaries, according to Times Higher Education’s world league table.
Commenting on the analysis, Phil Baty from Times Higher Education said it came as no surprise that London remained high up in the rankings, given how large the city is.
Imperial College London. Credit: Mihnea Maftei/Creative Commons
He said: “Most of the towns named as being top university cities are huge global metropolises, and where you get a high concentration of people, you are bound to get great universities – after all, it’s the people within colleges that make them the great institutions that they are.”
He also noted that when broken down by universities per capita, Sweden soared into the lead.
The capital’s closest competitors are Paris with 10 universities in the top 500 and Boston with eight.
Some of London’s highest ranking institutions include Imperial College, ranked eighth best globally, University College London (UCL), ranked 16th, LSE at 25th, and King’s College London, ranked 36th.
In addition to this, the UK is home to the two best universities in the world for the first time in the list’s 13-year history. Oxford has been ranked number one once again, while Cambridge has jumped from fourth place to second.
However, experts have said that Britain’s status as a leader in world higher education could be at risk from Brexit and that the nation’s future position is on shaky ground.
Professor Michael Arthur, University College London’s president, told the Standard that if EU funding for universities was lost it would ‘threaten London as a world leader in higher education and as a research engine that helps drive the economy’.
Phil Baty also said Brexit poses a ‘huge risk to the success of UK universities’.
The Times Higher Education director added that universities were already starting to feel the pinch from the Brexit vote, with the number of EU applicants plummeting by five per cent since last year.
“The rankings highlight what is at stake if we cannot agree a sustainable way to properly fund our universities, we fail to welcome global students, and if the research funding and academic talent that comes to us from the European Union is cut off,” he said.
Professor Arthur said: “At UCL more than 21 percent of our academics are from the EU and a further 14 percent are from other non-EU nations. We draw students from more than 150 countries, such is the lure of the intellectual and cultural powerhouse that is London.
“These EU staff and students need more reassurance that freedom of movement for people of their calibre will continue after Brexit without bureaucratic visa restrictions.”
Source: The Evening Standard
Featured Image Credit: Visit London