Imperial leapfrogged to joint second place with Cambridge (Source: Getty)
The UK produced its best ever performance on the world's academic stage in 2014, with a record number of universities being included in the QS world university rankings.
Six British universities made it to the global top 20 – more than ever before – while 19 made it into the top 100.
31 countries were represented in the top 200, and of these only the US came higher than the UK in terms of number of top universities; the US had 51 while the UK had 29.
But when it comes to cities, London houses the brightest young minds - it is the only city in the world to have more than three universities in the Top 100.
“These rankings consolidate London’s position as the education capital of the world. Nowhere else will you find such a critical mass of top universities within just a few miles of each other, all providing an excellent education and producing graduates who go on to be leaders in their fields,” commented Mayor of London Boris Johnson
According to QS, one of the key drivers of success both in the UK and abroad has been an emphasis on scientific and technological research. Over the year there was an average increase of seven per cent in the number of year-on-year citations per faculty among the top ten universities.
“In the wake of the recession, both governments and private sector funding sources are placing greater emphasis on high-impact STEM research, much of which takes place in specialist institutions,” said QS head of research Ben Sowter.
“Tech-focused institutions are increasingly the focal point of a global race for innovation. With budgets from public sources increasingly coming under strain, institutions seem more focused than ever on potentially lucrative research in science, technology and medicine.”
There is still work to be done, however; Cambridge remains the only UK institution to make the global top 40 for research citations, while UCL, Oxford and Imperial join in the top 50.
The US institutions still dominate this area, indicating that sustained investment is crucial to ensure the UK’s future competitiveness and continued world-class status as a study and research destination, according to QS.