York drops 11 places in Times Higher Education World University Rankings

The University of York has fallen eleven places to number 81 in the Times Higher Education (THE) 2010-11 World University Rankings.

York’s fall from number 70 last year can be put down to the “new metholodgy” employed by THE which “places less importance on reputation and heritage than in previous years and gives more weight to hard measures of excellence.”

Phil Baty, editor of THE World University Rankings, said that the change in methodology meant that “any movement up or down since 2009 cannot be seen as a change in performance” and that they “do contend that these tables are realistic”. He continued to suggest that the tables “may deliver an unpleasant wake-up call that the days of trading on reputation alone are coming to an end.”

‘Research’, ‘teaching’ and ‘knowledge transfer’ were cited as three of the key criteria used in the new assessment method.

Indeed, while the UK has three institutions in the top ten – Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London – it has only five institutions in the top 50, and just 14 in the top 100.

According to THE, this is despite “the UK historically view[ing] its higher education sector as world-leading.”

Amid the continuing controversy over University funding in the UK, THE highlighted the fact that, “investment in higher education produces world-class universities”. It citied countries such as China, South Korea and Canada, “which invest significantly in higher education [and] scored highly under the new methodology.”

Ann Mroz, Editor of THE said: “Higher education funding is currently a matter of worldwide debate, and we urge those discussing the issue to remember the importance of a strong university system for excellence in research and teaching, and as a driver of the knowledge economy.”

This year’s ranking table was dominated by US institutions which took all five of the top places. Harvard University was ranked in first place while a total of 72 US universities featured in the global top 200.

David Willetts, UK minister for universities and science, also commented, remarking that, “Reputation counts for less this time, and the weight accorded to quality in teaching and learning is greater.”

YUSU President, Tim Ngwena, believes that, “The global performance of York echoes a national trend and now concern of British Universities not performing as well as our US counterparts, who receive twice as much funding as a percentage of GDP (1.3% in UK vs 3.1% in US).”

He continued to say that “as Professor Steve Smith (President of Universities UK) highlights, this must serve as a warning to the government prior to their decisions on higher education funding”, explaining how “closer to home, YUSU is already working with the University to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning resources as well as the facilities on campus is maintained and improved in the coming years.”


  1. I remember back when I started. The University was just one mud hut and it was Dinosaurs not Ducks who caused such a mess on campus…

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  2. “…the change in methodology meant that “any movement up or down since 2009 cannot be seen as a change in performance” and that they “do contend that these tables are realistic”.”

    In other words, York has, technically, always been 81 but the people who construct these league tables haven’t been counting properly. That is, we were never actually 70, so, technically, we haven’t dropped 11 places down the rankings. Right?

    Worra load of bollocks these world rankings are… unless you’re at Harvard, of course.

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  3. Well, York has definitely improved since last year, so maybe that should be the focus instead of these (sometimes) wildly inaccurate rankings.

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  4. What a neat artcile. I had no inkling.

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