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Britain’s Conformist Universities Lose Grip On Global University Rankings

Javier Espinoza, The Daily Telegraph

Oxbridge universities slip down as balance of power in higher education is ‘slowly shifting from the West to the East’

Britain’s best universities are slipping down university rankings because they are forced to focus on diversity and recruiting from disadvantaged backgrounds, experts say.

Top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, have been under huge political pressure to take on minority students after the Prime Minister, David Cameron, attacked them for racial bias and not working harder to broaden their student mix.

Earlier this year Mr Cameron said universities would be forced to disclose the proportion of ethnic minority applicants that get places as he encouraged more transparency.

It now seems that this pressure is leading universities to “take their eye off the ball” in terms of improving quality of research and teaching, in favour of implementing recruitment policies to appease political pressures.

An annual ranking, published by the Times Higher Education (THE), showed Cambridge has fallen to fourth place, down from second last year while Oxford to fifth having been third in one of the most prestigious world university rankings.

The number of UK universities in the top 100 has also dropped from 12 to 10 this year with Bristol and Durham falling out of the list, the table showed.

The table, which is based on the largest invitation-only survey of senior academics across the world, placed only three other UK universities in the top 30 (Imperial, UCL and LSE).

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