The Times Higher Education magazine today published its 2012 World Reputation Rankings, a complementary league to the World University Rankings, both of which are based on the world's largest survey of academic opinion.
The results show a continued dominance of the US in terms of global reputation. Harvard, MIT, Berkeley and Stanford all appear in the top six for the second year running (the rankings' inception was 2011). Oxford and Cambridge round out the top 6, which is unchanged in composition from last year. However, the gap between these 6 world-leaders and the rest of the pack has widened.
This can at least partly be attributed to the combination of US dominance on the list (44 of the top 100 schools are US-based) and a general slipping in the reputation of US public universities in the wake of public funding cuts at these institutions.
Phil Baty, Editor, Times Higher Education Rankings, said: "The US has the most highly regarded universities in the world by a long way. With a stunning 44 institutions in the world top 100 reputation list, no country comes anywhere near it. But there is absolutely no room for complacency. A large number of US institutions have seen their standing in the table slip, with some of the great public institutions taking significant hits as the world watches their public funding being slashed. This is bad news.
"Meanwhile the top Asian universities – notably in China, Hong Kong and Singapore, which have seen very healthy levels of investment from their governments, have almost all seen an increase in their reputational standing. There are clear signs of the start of a power shift from West to East."
The second most well-represented country in the top 100 is the UK, with 10 entries (down from 12 in 2011). Apart from Oxbridge maintaining their positions in the top six most other well-respected UK universities have fallen in the rankings.
Despite the continued Western dominance in the rankings, their tends to be a large degree if inertia in respect of intangibles such as reputation, so the general trending downwards of US and UK institutions is more concerning for Western education than it may at first appear. In contrast to this slip other countries that are investing heavily in education such as Japan and China have seen their representatives rising up the tables.
The poll has attracted almost 31,000 responses from 149 countries in just two annual rounds. This year's results are based on a record 17,554 responses from senior, published academics, up by 31 per cent on last year's poll of 13,388 academics.