Oxford ranked world's top university, just as Brexit looms

Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:55am EDT
 
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By Peter Hobson

LONDON (Reuters) - The University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world and feeder for the British elite, has topped a global education ranking for the first time, but its vice-chancellor warned that Brexit could damage its long-term prospects.

Oxford knocked the leader for the last five years, California Institute of Technology, into second place in the Times Higher Education's global league table, which also saw Chinese universities climb rapidly.

Oxford, which educated four of the last six British prime ministers, ousted its U.S. rival after its research funding rose 10 percent and overall funding rose to 1.4 billion pounds ($1.83 billion), while the impact of its research increased, said Phil Baty, editor of the rankings.

But Baty said Britain's exit from the European Union "is a serious risk to our success" by making it harder to attract top academic staff and plug them into research projects.

Brexit risks driving away students, staff and funding, Oxford’s vice-chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, told BBC radio.

Richardson said rival universities had stepped up efforts to poach the 17 percent of Oxford’s faculty who are EU citizens, and whose status in Britain was no longer guaranteed following the June 23 vote.

"There are many universities in the world that would be thrilled to have them and who are approaching them and asking if they would return to their universities instead," she said.

The government had also offered no reassurance that it would replace around 67 million pounds a year it receives from the European Research Council to fund its work, she said.   Continued...

 
Graduates queue to have their photograph taken after a graduation ceremony at Oxford University, Oxford, southern England in this May 28, 2011.  REUTERS/Paul Hackett/File Photo