UEA falls in world rankings, still strong in subject leagues

The results for the 2018 QS World University Rankings have been released, with UEA ranking 274th globally, falling by 22 places from its 2017 ranking, and by a whole 45 places below its highest rank of 229th in 2014.

However, the university did find itself doing well in individual subject leagues, ranking as high as 12th in the subject rankings for Development Studies, placing it above both Manchester and Princeton University.

UEA also ranked 40th for Environmental Studies, 49th for Geography, and landed in the top 200 universities for English language and literature.

The possible reason for UEA’s overall decline in the face of resilient subject rankings is that the two are measured by different parameters. Subject tables place more emphasis on research, the quality of which has changed little in the UK, remaining high and possibly even getting slightly higher.

QS also rank universities on criteria of ‘academic reputation’, ‘employer reputation’, and the number of citations made per paper.

The 2018 QS world rankings have indicated a general decline for all UK universities over the past 18 months, however the country also still maintains healthy rankings on the subject-specific tables.

Ten of the 48 subject tables are led by UK institutions, with 32 having a British university in one of the top three spots.

A total of 34 percent of top three positions are currently held by the UK. No UK University which held world-leading status has been usurped by an international competitor, with Oxford, Cambridge and UCL all holding on to their top spots.

The top three universities on the QS rankings are MIT, Stanford, and Harvard University, respectively. The news looks especially good for UK universities when cast in the context of academic performance in all of Europe, which appears to have undergone a steady and greater decline than the UK in recent years.

Amid concerns about higher education following Brexit, the relatively stable rankings of UK institutions will serve to rebuild some confidence in the sector, though perhaps not enough to avoid further problems later down the line.


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Sean Bennett

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January 2022
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