FOUR Scottish universities have been ranked among the top 100 in a global league table measuring scientific performance.
St Andrews claimed the highest position (47th) in the Leiden rankings, which measure the scientific impact of higher education institutions. Dundee took 79th position, while Edinburgh was 84th and Aberdeen 91st.
Drawn up by experts at Leiden University in the Netherlands, the list is unlike many other university league tables as it does not use reputational surveys or any data provided by the universities themselves. Instead, it is based on calculations relating to the publication of scientific research and the number of citations that research receives.
This year’s list is dominated by American universities, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology taking the top spot, followed by the University of California, Santa Barbara and Stanford in second and third.
The highest placed UK institution is Cambridge, which came 24th, followed by Oxford in 30th position.
St Andrews’ ranking improved from 71st position last year, however, Dundee and Edinburgh fell from 78th and 66th respectively. Outside of the top 100, Glasgow University was placed 121st, while Strathclyde University took 308th position in the 500-place list.
Principal Professor Louise Richardson said: “St Andrews may be one of the world’s smaller research universities, but, demonstrably, we have global impact as so many of our academics are producing important, recognised research. This is a good result for St Andrews, but it is also a good result for Scotland.”
Commenting on his university’s showing, Professor Pete Downes, principal of Dundee University, said: “This ranking is a key indicator of strength and impact of research and … so I am pleased that once again Dundee has recorded a good result.”
The results are welcome news for Scotland’s universities after a relatively poor showing in last year’s World University Rankings, in which Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and St Andrews all slipped, with only Edinburgh improving on the position it held the previous year. Often described as the “gold standard”, the World University Rankings are based on teaching, research and international outlook.
The survey’s authors questioned whether the Scottish Government’s decision to keep tuition free for Scots and European Union students was sustainable, and said UK institutions were losing ground to well-funded universities in Asia.
Reacting to the results, Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said: “It is extremely encouraging that Scotland has four universities ranked in the top 100 in the Leiden Ranking 2013.
“However, it is of critical importance that investment in Scotland’s universities continues to ensure that Scotland is an international competitor for research, scientific collaboration and the promotion of opportunity.”