By Becky Wilson
Results published last Thursday by the Times Higher Education (THE) rank Durham as the 83rd best university in the world. Durham dropped three places from its position last year, when it came 80th.
Edinburgh, Manchester and Bristol were among the nine UK universities to beat Durham, while Oxford and Cambridge stormed ahead to achieve 3rd and 5th place respectively. For the fourth consecutive year, first place was given to the California Institute of Technology.
Often considered the most reputable global league table, the Times Higher Education judges universities on 13 performance indicators, including knowledge transfer, research and international outlook.
Uniquely, the THE also considers the environments in which students are taught.
Durham performed best in the “flagship” category of research influence. The university achieved a score of 88.9 for the amount of times its work has been cited by scholars globally. Times Higher Education consider this demonstrative of “the role universities [play] in spreading new knowledge and ideas.”
Durham was also rated highly for its international outlook. The THE claims that “the ability of a university to attract undergraduates and postgraduates from all over the planet is key to its success on the world stage”.
For Bulgarian student Madlen Popignatova, league tables played a large role in her decision to choose Durham as she told Palatinate:
“I didn’t know much about British universities before arriving here, so league tables really helped me decide. As an international student, it’s good to know Durham thinks on a global scale rather than looking inwards.”
However, as Durham performs very differently in other league tables (it recently came 92nd in the QS World Rankings), results are often treated with scepticism.
Romana Kesavan, a second-year Economics student, commented:
“It is difficult to know which ones to trust. Durham beats many universities in the British league tables that it lags behind in the global ones.”
Despite this, universities take their position in league tables very seriously.
Kevin Wilson, Director of External Relations at the Institute of Education, University of London, recently claimed:
“League tables are increasingly important in the HE marketplace. We have seen a huge increase in profile since the Institute was ranked top in education in the QS World University Rankings.”
“They are particularly important to international students, and many governments look to the league tables when deciding whether to fund scholarships in support of UK study.”
Photograph: Venus Loi