Tue 20 Mar 2018
- The award-winning student news website of Imperial College

Know something you shouldn't? Tell us, using our quick, 100% anonymous tip-off form!

Live! - News

Imperial Rises to 5th in World

Nov 08 2007 14:12
Ashley Brown
This year's Times Higher Education Supplement world league table has seen Imperial College rise to 5th in the world, above MIT.
Imperial College London

Imperial has climbed the international university league table published by THES, reaching 5th place behind Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford and Yale. Harvard takes the top spot, while the other three line up behind in joint second place.

UCL has also made it into the top ten, moving from 25th last year to the 9th place Imperial claimed last year. MIT sits at the bottom of the top universities, in tenth place - fall from joint fourth last year.

Stanford and UC Berkeley both tumbled out of the top ten, falling from 6th to 19th and 8th to 22nd, respectively. European institutions also dropped down the tables.

The top ten was:

  • 1 Harvard University (US)
  • 2 University of Cambridge (UK)
  • = University of Oxford (UK)
  • = Yale University (US)
  • 5 Imperial College London (UK)
  • 6 Princeton University (US)
  • 7 California Institute of Technology (US)
  • = University of Chicago (US)
  • 9 University College London (UK)
  • 10 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)
Email this Article | Share on Facebook | Print this Article

Discussion about “Imperial Rises to 5th in World”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. hm   
Nov 08 2007 14:57

unbelievable fraud

Nov 08 2007 15:30

Clearly the THES is a literary of rubbish.

Nov 08 2007 15:33

Imperial College ahead of Caltech??? UCL ahead of Cornell? That's the greatest educational parody, ever.

Congratulations to this country for fooling herself.

Nov 08 2007 15:39

Durham's ahead of UC Santa Barbara!!! Wow! How many recent Nobel prize winners does Durham have? Zero. UC Santa Barbara? An impressive five.

University of Hong Kong is ahead of Stanford and Berkeley! Wondrous! Guess we should all just apply to Hong Kong for our PhDs then.

Nov 08 2007 15:48

Liverpool is ahead of Georgetown and Nottingham ahead of Dartmouth! I guess both Bill Clinton (Georgetown alumni) and Henry Paulson (Dartmouth) were once chavs...

[To those not in the know, Georgetown is highly regarded for politics and Dartmouth is an Ivy-league college. Shows once again how rubbish THES is. ]

Nov 08 2007 16:35

(From the Collge website)

Imperial also features highly in the THES sub-rankings, coming sixth in the world for technology, seventh for life sciences and biomedicine and thirteenth for natural sciences.

I don't get it. We are below the top 5 for all the subjects we actually teach at Imperial. How on earth did we end up 5th overall???

Nov 08 2007 16:42

That sounds out of date. Last results were:

  • 4th for technology
  • 4th for biomedicine
  • 9th for sciences
Nov 08 2007 16:43

Oh and this year's faculty results won't be announced for a couple of weeks.

Nov 08 2007 17:27

Re confused:

Answer: Because THES is full of c**p.

Nov 08 2007 19:47

Why the hell are we 7th for technology and 2nd in europe for it?!??!?!?!

Nov 08 2007 19:47


Nov 08 2007 20:45

I'm loving this! People are objecting because "obviously" MIT are better, um better because normally they're higher in the league tables! Saying "obviously" one institution isn't as good as another is annoying.

Number of Nobel prizes is not a good measure, often the best researchers will go to the places with the most money available for project funding, very different from the best places.

I have been working with graduates from MIT and Harvard, and honestly they aren't really any sharper than British graduates from the top 5 uni's in this country.

Feel flattered, not outraged!

Nov 08 2007 21:51

@ Spencer Smith

University of Hong Kong is a highly regarded university in Asia and similarly Tokyo University. Perhaps you shouldn't be so narrow minded.

I thought if any one was to take one thing from university, it should be logical reasoning. Perhaps you should have a look at how they came up with the study and results and not just dismiss the work.

Nov 08 2007 22:52

Re James Fok:

Do you mine if you quote the citation count, no. of patents secured and no. of Nobel prize winners/ fields medalist and compare Stanford's and Berkeley's (two of the world's best universities) against University of Hong Kong? I'm quite sure that HKU's record for Nobel/Fields/patents/citation is dismal.

Being well-regarded doesn't mean excellence, which is what top universities are about.

The Shanghai Jiaotong ranking (which is quoted by the Economist btw) runs on solid indicators such as the ones I stated above. Stanford is no. 2 and HKU is not even in the top 100.

Nov 08 2007 23:08

Re James Fok,

I thought if any one was to take one thing from university, it should be logical reasoning. Perhaps you should have a look at how a disproportionate no. of survey forms were sent to the UK and commonwealth universities than to the rest of the world.

You should also be aware that the peer review system in THES is working, the ranking of the universities should not be too far away from the ranking of them via solid matrices such as citation count. Imperial is shameless in flaunting that no. 5 in the world on its website, in my humble opinion.

Nov 08 2007 23:40

Noble Prizes are awarded in only a few areas, for one... engineering receives none. Also, business/organisational and other fields of management are not awarded.

Perhaps institutions from India and China and even Microsoft and 3M should feature highly in the rankings. As they probably filed close to 75% of all patents in the world.

I do agree on some of the points you have made in terms of citations and the significance of the Shanghai Jiaotong ranking. The latter publication also has flaws in its method of ranking, which I believe the authors themselves pointed out.

I have no idea of the number of survey forms sent out and their destinations. I cannot therefore make any sensible comments.

However, I am glad that Imperial College can rank highly within the views of local and commonwealth academics. By your argument, are you suggesting these academics are bias toward UK institutions rather than making their own judgement that MIT or Caltech is indeed better than Imperial?

Nov 09 2007 00:19

Well said Mr. Fok. I always liked you.

Mr. Smith you seem to have a chip on your shoulder, or at least something which is fuelling your inferiority complex. At least this is refreshingly annoying. I think the majority of people applying to Imperial College did so because of it's ranking in league tables and should be proud that it has moved higher, even if it is incorrectly placed as you see it. Regard it as a few extra pounds on your projected starting salary. I myself think this is at least worth a gloating phone call home to Mummy.

Nov 09 2007 00:47

"citation count, no. of patents secured and no. of Nobel prize winners" are lousy ways of ranking universities as a whole. They rank how widely used research is (in the case of nobel prizes, only in limited areas), not necessarily how ground-breaking the research is, nor the quality of graduates emerging from that institution. A university which puts all its effort into research and nothing at all into teaching could get lots of patents and citations but turn out lousy graduates.

Nov 09 2007 12:52

Re James Fok

Yes Nobel Prizes (and Fields) are only awarded in a small no. of areas. But this argument does not explain why MIT manages to secure so many Nobel prizes in recent years (obviously much more than Imperial) even though our orientations are similarly biased towards engineering rather than pure sciences (Caltech for ex. is an institution that's biased towards the pure sciences.)

Shanghai Jiaotong's ranking can go down really badly on institutions that specialise in the humanities or social sciences (like LSE for example.) However, if take a look at the ranking of Social Science depts under Shanghai you would still find that LSE's performance in social science is really dismal when compared to University of Chicago?s. I can only suspect that UChicago?s economics (one discipline in the SS which both universities are famous for) is much much better than LSE?s in actual quality eventhough they are perceived to be on par.

Of course the researchers in the Commonwealth are going to have some degree of bias towards British institutions. I suspect that this continued commonwealth bias is a huge source of capital inflow for this country.

Nov 09 2007 12:57

Re Ashley Brown

Nobel prizes tend to be awarded to research that are ground breaking, and impacting research tends to be cited. Using Nobel prizes + citation as a measure of the research performance of a university cannot be more logical in my opinion.

Teaching is old Europe (sorry...); the American style of research-intensive university is what Imperial aspires to be. Evidently this is the Rector's vision for Imperial as well.

Nov 09 2007 13:28

Re Imperialist

I don?t have a clip on my shoulder, just that my thinking is clearer than yours.

I just find it idiotic that some na?ve individuals in the UK still continue to believe (or dream should I say) that BBC English is world-class, when the order of the day is CNN and the level of language sophistication in the New York Times is unmatched by almost any newspapers here, including the FT.

23. Seb   
Nov 09 2007 13:50

While I do think that any list that puts Imperial five places ahead of MIT is... um... slightly dodgy, I'm not sure I buy into the nobel prize argument. For a start, asside from the subject matter, a requirement for Nobel prizes to be awarded is that the work has to be attributable to a realtively small number of people. It's a metric, true, but it's not a hard and fast one, and it tells you nothing about teaching (and you are living in a fantasy land if you think UG teaching is research-intensive). More to the point Nobel prizes awarded in recent years are often for research considerably older.

If Imperial really were decisively better in research than MIT now (unlikely), it would only show up in ten years time in terms of nobel prizes.

Though I must say, your last post does seem to contradict itself, you *do* seem to have a chip on your shoulder. Language sophistication... oh my. Some would say that the point of a newspaper is to comunicate rather than to be excesively erudite. If we are talking (old Europe), perhaps you should check out the French Press's love of erudition over content and investigative journalism.

Nov 09 2007 15:08

I'm not going to take sides, lest we reach a Godwin's Law situation.

However, Spencer, I would be interested to see if you are affiliated with Imperial or resident in the UK. Seeing as most of the people in this discussion thread (myself included) are either ex or current Imperial students.

Just in case anyone writing a prospectus is reading and might get ideas for a campaign ;-)

Nov 09 2007 16:31


Nov 09 2007 16:44

Smith is obviously some kind of crazed American nationalist

27. hm   
Nov 10 2007 11:56

dudes, just look at the criteria

Nov 10 2007 15:58

Re Tom Elliott

I'm a citizen of this country and an Imperial College student.

Nov 10 2007 23:29

Well personally I think that UCL should go away and stop catching up with Imperial, stupid poly

Nov 11 2007 11:57

I'm just glad people dare calling Imperial the world's 5th university. Seriously though they must be some kind of rational behind such ranking.

At the end of the day, rankings make some people cheer and others boo.

Nov 11 2007 15:07

American colleges (+Oxbridge) are a league of their own. Any rankings that doesn't recognise this is flawed to begin with.

Shanghai Jiaotong recognises this, hence it is cited by the Economist.

Nov 12 2007 10:57

Re Spencer Smith

why do you keep harping on about the economist as if it were the mouthpiece of veritas? it seems your narrow-mindedness hasn't been positively influenced by any of the content in that pseudo-intellectual magazine. i dare think what would happen if you began to read something with more substantial content and use it as your pillar of truth. or maybe someone's just edgy because they didn't accepted to their first-choice institution. boohoo

33. Seb   
Nov 12 2007 16:53

What, by virtue of being American?

Imperial is definitely better for UG in many Science and Engineering compared to Oxford, for example. Look at the limited Lab hours for a start, compared to many Imperial courses.

Ultimately, your definition seems more than a little circular. Any ranking that doesn't produce the answer you expect to get isn't correct, so Imperial can't be as good by definition. I hope you are not involved in an experimental science.

34. ded   
Nov 12 2007 19:00

hes a first year doing maths

35. Ant   
Nov 12 2007 21:12

"Imperial is definitely better for UG in many Science and Engineering compared to Oxford"

I'd agree from an industry side. From the veiwpoint of several engineers I have met within industry Oxbridge does not produced "engineers", "engineering scientists" maybe but not engineers per se.

Nov 12 2007 22:19

Re economist?

Not quite. A recent survey by Science mag pointed that the UK produces the most amount of influential research (or something to that effect - success in securing grants which means that the UK's track record for research is most successful.)

Our country is definitely superb when comes to research if you exclude those well-endowed institutions/universities + National Laboratories in the US.

In terms of selectivity for admission (i.e., student), citations + prizes won (i.e., faculty), media coverage and amount of funds/capital/endowment/financial backing, I honestly don't see why some institutions placed above MIT in THES should be above MIT.

THES is really famous for how "international" its tables are. Many "unknown" Asian universities (except Tokyo, Kyoto etc) that are placed in the top 35 of THES are placed in the range of 150 to 300 for Shanghai Jiaotong, which counts on citation alone. Yes research/patents/citations/prizes is definitely not everything to a university - teaching for one is very important and Oxbridge's 2 to 1 tutor system is world famous - but research in general is very important particularly to the top top tier schools (like Imperial) and I still have tangible reasons to believe that US schools are a league of their own when comes to that.

37. Seb   
Nov 13 2007 10:49

Spencer Smith:

Shanghai Jiaotong does not count on citation alone you know. 30% of the criteria goes to fields medals and nobel prizes, to alumni and faculty, 20% on nature and science articles (which Imperial, IIRC, beats MIT on this year), then another on citation over Arts and Humanities, Science and social science citation index.

The citation index is going to bugger Imperial over royally, as we probably get something very low in Social Sciences and close to 0 in humanities.

Meanwhile, Nobel and Fields prize medals have a huge lag on them.

Nov 13 2007 23:17

The THES ranking is very highly based on research income and so is susceptible to exchange rate fluctuations. The change in rankings since 2006 reflects the weak dollar more than any change in the respective universities.

Nov 14 2007 07:39

I mentioned about Nobel prizes and Fields Medallist for Shanghai.

40. Seb   
Nov 14 2007 11:53

Spencer Smith:

"...Shanghai Jiaotong, which counts on citation alone"

I was replying to this, which I perhaps misunderstood.

Nov 14 2007 21:07

Interesting pt Mustafa Arif...

Nov 15 2007 03:10

Imperial College is ranked 5th in the world! Just rejoice at that news and congratulate our staff and students.

43. 2-2-1   
Nov 15 2007 12:32

Not only can we get cheap iPods... but better degrees too.

Go Pound!

PS. forget the Euro! ;)

Nov 15 2007 16:09

M. Arif:

Point taken, but how do you know that the exchange rate it is such an important factor?

Nov 15 2007 20:19

thats complete bulls**t... the pound makes everything so incredibly expensive

Nov 15 2007 21:29

No silly billy. Think about it some more.

Nov 15 2007 23:33

Well I'm too silly to work it out on my own... or I just dont know enough about "finance". All I can say is that, for everyday stuff, I pay approximately 1,7 times what I usually pay at home where it works in euros. Please enlighten me...

Jun 24 2008 00:17

Imperial College Research Quality and teaching standards are Excellent. It has the best location in the heart of London. A budget of over 500 million pounds, that's $ 1,000,000,000. Our free gym alone have cost 12 million pounds.IC has given many positive contributions to science for 100 years. The Biomedical Institute is one of a kind in Europe. I suggest that people should try other places before judging if Imperial College deserve the rank or not. I have tried 3 top universities and can tell you that Imperial College is by far the best.

A proud Imperial College Post-Graduate.

MSc Bioengineering

Jun 24 2008 13:58

what a grave digger

Jul 15 2008 10:11

I second Specer Smith's arguments.

Personally, I say that it's just impossible to compare one university with another to say which one is clearly better or worse. But when it comes to comparing science institutes, I must say THES is an inferior product to the Shanghai Jiaotong ranking.

First of all, most world universities are ranked because they are research institutes. It's very difficult on the other hand to measure teaching quality. Apparently, you can't visit all the universities in the world so you just can't say Imperial has better teaching quality. As a result, the only measurable data, are citations to world renowned academic journals, and awards such as Nobels and Fields. Above all, how your university be a world class engineering institute if your university isn't strong in the natural sciences?

Secondly, Shanghai Jiao Tong measures only like 20% of social sciences citations. If this is the only excuse you have for Imperial ranking lower in its ranking, then why Caltech is still higher? I mean, it's very small school but it generates more Nobel winners and Field winners than Imperial, and don't get it wrong, it also has an excellent engineering program.

51. mimi   
Aug 01 2008 03:43

Great.All ur colleges are going very well.1st ISB ranking went up and now Imperial.Now u should consider Harvard for PHD.

Add your comment:

If you can see this, something is broken (either with your browser, or with our system). Please leave the box below empty, or your comment will be considered to be spam.

Live! Poll

How frequently would you like to see a CGCU magazine being published