Warwick loses spot in Times top 200 universities list

Warwick has been dropped from the Times Higher Education’s (THE) Top 200 World Universities, beaten by dozens of other UK universities who regularly score lower in UK league tables.

Although Warwick scored 58 last year, the ranking methodology has been revised extensively for this year, resulting in Warwick’s lack of inclusion on the list.

One expert connected to the study commented in a University press release that “in each country there are anomalies. Are these new views or are they signals of a need for further work? I think many people might raise their eyebrows at the absence of Warwick University from the Top 200, and in the UK sequence it doesn’t fall where you would expect.”

The University notes that the latest Research Assessment Exercise ranked Warwick seventh in the UK, and that the RAE is considered the most accurate measurement of UK universities’ relative rankings.

VC Nigel Thrift, commenting on the QS World Rankings from earlier in September, which ranked Warwick 53rd in the world, said: “I could simply note the fact that we have climbed several places in [the QS] table matches our own real experience that Warwick’s global reputation continues to grow. However, I think it is actually more important to caution people against taking any of the current world rankings of Universities as gospel truth.

“These tables can show unbelievably large changes of fortune for individual universities, and the vast disparities between each of the three main global university league tables leads me to think we are still far from finding a table that is able to truly compare and reflect the diversity of the worlds’ universities.

“When considering research-led universities, one should take particular care that any global table should reflect, and indeed be benchmarked against, the results produced by the UK’s own robust and detailed research assessment exercises.

“The best evidence of Warwick’s international reputation rests on the work, reputation, and influence on international scholarship and policy makers, of all Warwick’s staff and students of which we are very proud.”

The fact that Warwick was not even in the top 200 of world universities, and VC Thrift’s comments on the inadequacy of world rankings would seem at odds with the University’s Vision 2015 strategy, which states: “Our over-riding ambition is to take Warwick into the top 50 world universities – as measured by the quality of research output and the strength of student demand – by the University’s 50th birthday in 2015.”

The Times ranking used some measure of research output for calculating 62.5 percent of its score for each university, throwing the plans for bringing Warwick’s position into the top 50 on the basis of “research output” into doubt.

When questioned on this, University press officer Peter Dunn said only: “It is clear that the only totally reliable research measures have been the research assessment exercise to date. These rank Warwick 7th in UK yet the THE table is way off on that placing many poorer RAE performers ahead of us and indeed THE admits that Warwick’s ranking in their tables is an ‘anomaly’.

“The QS table ranks us 53rd in the world so we could simply cry ‘hooray job nearly done’ on the basis of that table but if we are honest we don’t believe that table either as UK universities seem to be doing much better in it than they should against some very significant US universities.”


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