For the first time ever the world's two top universities are in the UK

Emma Haslett
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Summer Returns To Oxford
Oxford was at the top of the ranking (Source: Getty)

The United Kingdom is home to the world's top two universities for the first time after Oxford and Cambridge took first and second places in a prestigious ranking

Oxford took the top spot in the Times Higher Education's 2018 World University Rankings for the second year in a row, having knocked the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) off the top spot last year after it held the position between 2012 and 2016. Cambridge jumped from fourth to second place.

Meanwhile, Caltech came joint third with Stanford University.

Times Higher Education (THE) said one of the reasons Oxbridge had jumped was thanks to an increase in both institutions' total income, which rose 24 per cent for Oxford and 11 per cent for Cambridge.

Imperial College took third place in the UK and eighth overall, while University College London came fourth in the UK, and 16th globally.

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Institution Rank 2018 Previous year
University of Oxford 1 1
University of Cambridge 2 4
Imperial College London 8 8
University College London 16 15
London School of Economics 25 25
University of Edinburgh 27 27
King’s College London 36 36
University of Manchester 54 55
University of Bristol 76 71
University of Glasgow 80 88
University of Warwick 91 82
Durham University 97 96
University of Sheffield 104 109
Queen Mary University of London 121 113
University of Southampton 126 121
University of Exeter 130 126
University of York 137 129
University of Leeds 139 133
University of Birmingham 141 130
University of St Andrews 143 110
University of Nottingham 147 147
University of Sussex 147 149
Lancaster University 150 137
University of Leicester 159 172
Cardiff University 162 182
Newcastle University 175 190
University of Liverpool 177 158
University of Aberdeen 185 188
University of Dundee 187 180
University of East Anglia 188 165
Royal Holloway, University of London 197 173

Although the UK's top institutions showed impressive performances, there were signs of a gap between the UK's most elite establishments and other universities, with the University of Warwick falling nine places to 91st, while the University of St Andrews fell 33 places, to joint 143rd. Just over half of UK institutions represented in the top 200 fell, THE said.

“The UK higher education system is facing intense political pressure, with questions over the value for money provided by £9,250 tuition fees in England, our continued attractiveness to international students, the flow of research funding and academic talent post-Brexit, and even levels of vice-chancellors’ pay," said Phil Baty, editorial director of global rankings at THE.

But one thing this new data makes absolutely clear is that the UK has many of the very best universities in the world and it has one of the world’s strongest higher education systems

He added: "The data show UK universities are consistently producing ground-breaking new research which is driving innovation, they are attracting international student and academic talent and are providing a world-class teaching environment. They are a huge national asset, and one that the country can ill afford to undermine at a time when its place in the global order is under intense scrutiny."

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