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Cardiff University falls in world rankings

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by Charlotte King

Every year, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings are published following a detailed analysis of universities across the world. Recently, the rankings for 2020 were published and it has come to light that Cardiff University has fallen 11 spaces since last year, going from 187th in 2019 to 198th in the 2020 list. Cardiff University came in at number 27 out of all UK universities ranked this year, an improvement from being 28th last year.

The THE World University Rankings provides an acclaimed analysis of the world’s higher education institutions, ranking nearly 1,400 universities from 92 countries across the globe for the 2020 list on the basis of their performance in five key areas: teaching; research; citations; industry income; and international outlook.

Overall, the THE World University Rankings scored Cardiff University 53.8 points out of 100, dropping from 54.2 last year and 54.8 in 2018.

In regards to the rankings, a Cardiff University spokesperson has said: “We do not allow ourselves to be driven by [the rankings], but they are there for all to see, and it’s important to understand how we fare.

“It’s crucial that Wales has a University ranked amongst the world’s best and we remain committed to achieving this.”

In terms of teaching, THE have looked universities based on their prestige in teaching and their commitment to “nurturing the next generation of academics”. In this regard, institutions are assessed in terms of their staff-to-student ratio; doctorate-to-bachelor’s ratio; the ratio of doctorates awarded to academic staff; institutional income; and have conducted a ‘reputation survey’.

Cardiff University was awarded a score of 32.5 for teaching in this year’s World University Rankings.

In terms of research, Cardiff University has regularly been recognised for its world-leading research as a Russell Group university. In this year’s THE rankings, however, the university’s research rating fell from its highest score of 39.3 in 2018 to 35.5 in 2020.

The universities’ research performance has been assessed on the basis of the institution’s reputation for research excellence amongst peers; research income and the number of publications published in quality peer-reviewed academic journals.

It’s not all bad news for Cardiff University, however. With regards to research influence and the university’s “role in spreading new knowledge and ideas”, the university has improved since last year. What’s more, in terms of international outlook – which measures the proportion of international students, international staff and overall international collaboration – the university has improved too, rising 2.4 points since 2019 to 85.1. Finally, in terms of industry income, Cardiff University has improved too, being awarded its second-highest score of 37.8 in the most recent rankings.

Despite Cardiff University falling in this year’s rankings, since 2016, the university has consistently been placed in the top 200 higher education institutions worldwide with 2018 being its most successful year where the university was awarded an overall score of 54.8.

However, the data from this year’s rankings has revealed that there is a widening funding gap between UK universities and other major higher education systems around the world, with 18 of the 28 UK universities ranking in the top 200 dropping places since last year, including Cardiff University. Despite this, the University of Oxford has retained the top spot for the fourth year running with a score of 95.4 out of 100.

Overall, the UK has 100 ranked universities and was formerly the second most-represented country in the rankings last year, beaten only by the US with 60 ranked universities. However, the UK was overtaken by Japan in the 2020 list who now have a total of 110 ranked universities. THE state that over the last five years, there has been a “consistent downward trend” for UK universities, with data showing that the funding for UK institutions has been “outpaced” by other global higher education systems.

THE suggest that this widening funding gap could be making it harder for UK universities to retain their access to resources and funding to ensure our research can compete with other institutions around the world.

In regards to the rankings, a Cardiff University spokesperson has said: “We do not allow ourselves to be driven by [the rankings], but they are there for all to see, and it’s important to understand how we fare.

“It’s crucial that Wales has a University ranked amongst the world’s best and we remain committed to achieving this.”

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